CM . . . .
Volume VI Number 1 . . . . September 3, 1999
Bouncing rhythm and rhyme collected in a variety of poems in Vanilla Gorilla produce an appealing book for children from preschool to grade 5. William New has written poems that cover the geography of Canada and mention things that are particular to specific regions. These poems are fun and full of bounce and will involve a child's entire physical being in the reading of the text.
This poem continues across Canada to the Pacific Ocean, and several of the other poems use Canadian sites as reasons to write nonsense. The book's only non-serious poem is a soft haiku about a Japanese grandmother.
The illustrations by Vivian Bevis are soft watercolours that are humourous but don't take over the page. They are imaginative, interesting to look at, and complement the content of the poems well. The poetry is spread out over the pages, with the text and illustrations being part of the whole presentation together. Encouraging students to use these as a model for illustrating their own poetry should produce some interesting results.
This book would serve well as a read-aloud at home. It can be used by a classroom teacher who is teaching poetry or as an adjunct to Canadian geography studies and a starter for students' own poetry about Canada. Any books that inspire children's imaginations, writing skills and poetic soul are always welcome. Vanilla Gorilla is one of those books.
Harriet Zaidman is a teacher - librarian in Winnipeg, MB.
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