Poetry for Children

WHEN THE SUN SHINES ON ANTARCTICA: And Other Poems about the Frozen Continent
Coming February 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1467752169

Millbrook Press/Lerner
Illustrations by Anna Wadham

Icebergs brighten
as the sun peels

itself of darkness
and stretches awake...

Experience summer at the bottom of the world. The sun rises, ice melts, grass grows, seals squabble, whales sing, and young penguins slide, glide and belly flop. Evocative poems are accompanied by additional facts that provide further details about the animals and their environment.

"Wadham’s paintings adeptly match the whimsical and mysterious notes in Latham’s poems, making for a fascinating study of the Antarctic’s singular creatures and features." = Publisher's Weekly

"Playfulness abounds... tender, lively." - Kirkus

"A delightful assortment of verse that is enhanced by stimulating information and charming illustrations." - School Library Journal

"will be welcomed by classrooms combining poetry and science." -Booklist

Publisher's Weekly
The team behind Dear Wandering Wildebeest moves from African watering holes to Antarctic expanses in 15 playful, informative poems. In a personal ad of sorts, an Adélie penguin seeks “a guy with a white-ringed eye/ who looks just like me.” Bull elephant seals square off, WWE style (“At stake, the fate of fifty cows/ and the right to roam the beach”). And one poignant poem compares krill to “a trillion/ tiny astronauts/ without/ a ship.” Substantial sidebars offer details about everything from petrels (“When they find a carcass, they often gorge themselves until they become too heavy to fly”) to brinicles (a portmanteau of brine and icicle)—melting, dripping seawater “so cold it causes the water around it to instantly freeze.” Wadham’s paintings adeptly match the whimsical and mysterious notes in Latham’s poems, making for a fascinating study of the Antarctic’s singular creatures and features. Ages 8–12. Author’s agent: Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary Studio. Illustrator’s agency: Astound. (Feb.)

The creators of Dear Wandering Wildebeest: And Other Poems from the Water Hole (2014) here offer poetry and art focused on the Antarctic summer. The 15 poems spotlight animals (whales, penguins, seals, krill, midges, and petrels), plants (hair grass, red algae, and moss), and natural features (brinicles and icebergs). Most poems are presented on double-page spreads that also include full color art and a scientific sidebar. For example, Latham compares the freezing power of brinicles to a magic wand that casts “an icy spell / on the sea / floor, / entombing / all it touches.” Wadham’s art depicts a briny icicle flash freezing every life form it encounters, while the explanatory note further clarifies how these features work. Similar in approach to Joyce Sidman and Rick Allen’s books (Winter Bees and Other Poems of the Cold, 2014), this pairs nicely with Judy Sierra’s penguin-themed Antarctic Antics (1998) and will be welcomed by classrooms combining poetry and science. — Kay Weisman

For six months straight, the sun shines in Antarctica, and the ice and oceans are alive with activity. Latham's collection of poems introduces young readers to the rituals and transitions experienced by Antarctica's diverse flora and fauna during its extended, though freezing, summer season. The return of the sun brings with it migratory birds and whales, the shedding of winter coats, and the birth and growth of the next generation. Each spread uses a poem and soft illustration to present a scene of Antarctic summer, which a small text box of factual information explains in more detail. Readers become acquainted with a variety of life both above and below the water, including multiple species of penguins and seals. The gentle illustrations excel at balancing both the frigid iciness and the blossoming hope of spring. Though playfulness abounds, this is not a romanticized portrait of life in the polar south—to survive, alphas must battle for mates, and predators must catch prey. The one misstep is the lack of direct representation of climate change in the poems and illustrations. Considering how dramatic the effects of climate change are on both the landscape and the life of the region, its mere two mentions in text boxes feel insufficient. A tender, lively, and mostly thoughtful tour through summer on the frozen continent. (glossary, further reading) (Informational picture book/poetry. 7-12)

School Library Journal
Gr 3-6
In this collection of poetry about a wide variety of Antarctic flora and fauna, Latham does a compelling job of presenting facts alongside verse. While the poetry varies, the tidbits are enlightening and likely to spark discussion among readers. Latham is knowledgeable and mindful about introducing young readers to lesser-known concepts and creatures. “Southern Giant Petrel at the Seashore” is as funny as it is interesting, and children will be encouraged to learn more about this bird. Other attempts are less compellingly written and don’t read as fluidly. Through stunning, evocative artwork, Wadham brings the hues of the Antarctic to life. Although the animals are not depicted in an anatomically precise fashion, they nonetheless are enjoyable and help enhance the text. VERDICT A delightful assortment of verse that is enhanced by stimulating information and charming illustrations.–Ellen Norton, Naperville Public Library, Naperville, IL

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