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Saturday, January 8, 2011

Have You Read? #1


It is not a surprise to know I read every day. It might seem odd, however, to see me read-walking while on the treadmill at the community center or read-knitting while I eat my lunch. I use every opportunity to experience books. Some of those books need to be read by others, so I hope to write about at least one each week.

I've loved Joyce Sidman's Dark Emperor & Other Poems of the Night for a long while (thanks for sharing it in its early stages, Joyce), and I think of it often. Many nights we hear an owl hooting in the trees behind our home. I always wish I could see it (think Owl Moon)! Joyce's words and Rick Allen's detailed relief prints brings me closer to that owl when I relish time with the poems, facts, and images they present.

Enter the night where the great horned owl reigns as the dark emperor of the nocturnal world. Welcome the night where creatures creep and crawl, “throw off sleep” and take flight. The Dark Emperor is shaped as its own outline with ear tips marked with the words "perched" and "missile". "I do not rest, I do not sleep,/and all my promises I keep" in "Oak After Dark" weaves an echo of Robert Frost through my thoughts. The Night Spider advises building a frame and then sticking to it; the facts about nocturnal orb spiders reinforce that advice. "I Am a Baby Porcupette" begs to be read aloud and read again, just to say porcupette. The wandering eft that wanders throughout the book has a ballad all to himself - and a fascinating story to share about being a land-dweller (as a red-spotted newt) and a water-dweller (after several years on land). As the moon laments the passing of the sounds and sights of night life, questions abound. Creatures of the night take cover until the sun's rays subside once again.

Spend time with this incredible mix of powerful language and incredible images. Whether by night or day, it will infuse the feeling of nighttime in you and keep you thinking about the creatures who reign while we slumber.

1 comment:

  1. I will second that recommendation, Julie. DARK EMPEROR is an amazing book. My own personal copy is sitting by my favorite chair. Gorgeous poetry, fascinating facts, and beautiful illustrations. I think the porcupette poem is one of my favorites. Yes, spread the word about this book!

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