Search on SLJ.com ....
Subscribe to SLJ
Follow This Blog: RSS feed
Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog
Inside Heavy Medal

Dark Emperor: Nina’s Take

Reproduced with permission. Please read aloud!:

I Am a baby Porcupette 

I am a baby porcupette.
My paws are small; my nose is wet.
And as I nurse against my mom,
we mew and coo a soft duet.
 
I am a baby porcupette.
I cannot climb up branches yet.
While Mom sleeps in the trees, I curl
beneath a log till sun has set.
 
I am a baby porcupette.
I nibble in the nighttime wet:
a sprig of leaves, a tuft of grass,
in hidden spots I won’t forget.
 
I am a baby porcupette.
My fur is soft; my eyes are jet.
But I can deal with any threat: 
I raise my quills
                        and pirouette.

Jonathan and I each picked our favorite poem to reproduce here, and it is complete coincidence that mine actually follows his in order, and also gives an example of a totally different type of Sidman’s artistry.  It highlights her skill with word choice and sound within a seemingly simple but constricting form.  Do you feel constricted when you read this poem aloud? No, you feel like you’re murmuring a yummy lullaby to your mommy.   On the surface, the content of language also seems simple…a lullaby.  But as in “Night-Spider’s Advice,” and, in fact, every poem in this volume, each phrase is actually informative, and reading the sidebar lets the reader enjoy the text on multiple levels.   Even “mew and coo a soft duet” is based in porcupine behavior: “the two ‘sing’ to each other while the porcupette nurses.”  And the language in the sidebar is itself musical: “As the mother forages, she leads her baby to delicacies such as raspberry leaves or tender twigs.” This, of course, to further inform the reader regarding the next stanza (“I nibble in the nighttime wet”).  Notice how the sidebar flows, narratively, along with the poem? 

All of this together exemplifies Sidman’s clarity of audience. Through voice and interpretation, she captures a young audience (and a wide one, say ages 5-10?) in multiple ways, at every turn.  “I Am a Baby Porcupette,” is first and foremost *cute*–in the best sense of that word, in a way that children respond to strongly.  There is music in this poem, and loads of information.   Do any of out other seven shortlisted authors demonstrate such a keen sense of audience?  

There is artistry like this on every page. A few more of my favorite examples:

In “Welcome to the Night” p.6:  ”come touch rough bark and leathered leaves”–read this one aloud too. Rough and leathery, isn’t it?  This sort of thing happens throughout…another favorite example at the end of “Cricket Speaks” on p.20.  Read aloud from “and sing, / sing,….” to the end, and then assure your coworkers there are no crickets in the room.

The beginning of “Snail at Moonrise” p.8: “Each night, Snail / unhooks himself from earth,” [Yep, read it aloud].  Notice the first line is entirely comprised of three stressed syllables (unusal, makes you focus, and go slow), and the second is made of three iambs (unstressed-stressed syllable pair), which has the effect of “unhooking”?

“Love Poem of the Primrose Moth” p.10. She doesn’t bother to tell us this, because it’s really not necessary to the reader’s enjoyment, but this is, loosely, a ghazal, and the very complex form is perfectly tuned to a young audience here.

And as a final note to this post, please read in its entirety “Oak after Dark” on p.14, which was my second choice for one to discuss fully here.  Then open your copy of the Newbery Medal winning title A Visit to William Blake’s Inn by Nancy Willard, and read “Blake’s Wonderful Car Delivers Us Wonderfully Well.”  These are extremely different poems, but the same form, and I think the comparison highlights how Sidman’s work is definetely Newbery caliber.

share save 171 16 Dark Emperor: Ninas Take
Nina Lindsay About Nina Lindsay

Nina Lindsay is the Children's Services Coordinator at the Oakland Public Library, CA. She chaired the 2008 Newbery Committee, and served on the 2004 and 1998 committees. You can reach her at ninalindsay@gmail.com

Comments

  1. Sandy D. says:

    OK, I know this is going to seem really petty, but crickets start singing before midnight. They’ve already been going strong for a couple hours at least by then. That disconnect with my reality just….well, it didn’t ruin the poem, because it really is an amazing piece, but it made it less authentic for me.

    “Dark Emperor” (tiny hiccup of a mouse’s heart! could there be a more inspired description?) and “Snail at Moonrise” are my absolute favorites. I love the description of how snails eat with their “tiny sandpaper tongue”. I thought the poem, the illustration, and the scientific description really complemented each other perfectly for this one.

  2. Jess says:

    I don’t have the book in front of me, but I seem to remember that the sidebar on the cricket poem describes how they peak in their singing at midnight – I don’t remember exactly what the poem says about the timing.

    Nina, thanks for your take on the poems – I hadn’t noticed the stresses in the snail poem and now I’m even more impressed! I think it’s interesting that Ubiquitous is getting most of the attention this year – maybe because the theme is more unique? – but I much prefer Dark Emperor after a couple of looks at each of them. The poems are more engaging to me, and the flow of one poem to the next (I also prefer the artwork in DE, which is of course not relevant to this discussion!)

  3. Jonathan Hunt says:

    The thing that strikes me about the poems Nina and I both chose is the strong, distinct sense of voice that Sidman is able to create in such a brief amount of text (the young, cute porcupette and the wise, old spider). When we discuss voice in a novel–MOCKINGBIRD, OUT OF MY MIND, THE KNEEBONE BOY, ONE CRAZY SUMMER, A TALE DARK AND GRIMM–well, I think this ranks up there with the best of them.

    While “Cricket Speaks” does say, “Now / it is midnight, / the trilling hour,” I never took that to mean that the trilling actually starts at midnight, but I can understand how one would get that impression.

    “Dark Emperor” is a favorite of mine, but it would be hard to copy it into our blog and retain the concrete form of the poem. I love the whole last line, “O Dark Emperor / of hooked face and / hungry eye: turn that / awful beak away / from me; / disregard / the tiny hiccup / of my heart / as I flee.” Brilliant. I also respond very well to “Snail at Moonrise” including the imagery of a tiny sandpaper tongue, and the last lines of “Cricket Speaks” that Nina mentioned. I love the narcisstic infatuation of “Love Poem of a Primrose Moth” and the insistent melancholy of “Moon’s Lament.”

    Read Roger just announced Horn Book Fanfare and . . . DARK EMPEROR makes its first best of the year list. Woo-hoo!

  4. Cecilia says:

    this may be silly, but if ‘porcupette’ is the word for a baby porcupine, then isn’t ‘baby porcupette’ a bit redundant? or am I making that up?

    I loved this book. Initially I liked UBIQUITOUS more because there was more unfamiliar information in it, and thus it was much more interesting on first read. But now having re-read both and used both in the classroom, I think DARK EMPEROR is much stronger in terms of voice and in the connection between the non-fiction sections and the poetry. I’m looking forward to going back to these books in April for Poetry month and discussing the forms with my students. I loved the ballad poem about the wandering efts!

  5. Sandy D. says:

    Porcupette was one of my least favorite poems, partially because I didn’t like the term “porcupette” and it all seemed too cute, and somehow less powerful than the other poems.

    The more I re-read this book (and “Ubiquitous”!), the more I’m rooting for Sidman – at least as an Honors winner! I’m excited by the prospect of more kids appreciating both poetry and natural history.

  6. Sandy D. says:

    Oh, and I do agree that the non-fiction sidebars are the weakest part of the books – they are just not as inspired as the poems. I told Wendy from Six Boxes of Books that I liked imagining what a couple of my favorite nature writers would have done with the assignment (Gary Paul Nabhan or Robert Sapolsky), though they don’t write for kids.

  7. Jonathan Hunt says:

    I’m not sure that I would describe the sidebars as weak. I think these nonfiction vignettes are actually exceptionally strong. Compare them to the other nonfiction picture books–BALLET FOR MARTHA, THE EXTRAORDINARY MARK TWAIN, KUBLA KHAN, LIZARDS–and you’ll find that they hold their own quite nicely. But I understand what you mean. If Sidman wins Newbery recognition for either book, it will be because of the poetry, which is the star of the books. The sidebars play an important, but supporting role.

  8. Jonathan Hunt says:

    Baby porcupette *is* a redundancy, but I think an intentional one because . . . well, can you think of a good substitute, that is, a two-syllable word with both consonance and long vowel sounds?

  9. Wendy says:

    Eh, similar constructions are used all the time: “baby kitten”, “baby foal”, “baby duckling”. I’m no judge of poetry, so I appreciate these close readings. Sandy and I were actually talking about the scientific paragraphs in Ubiquitous; I think those in Dark Emperor are better, more compelling, fit in more with the book’s mood. (But ahem, Jonathan, when you say “you’ll find that they hold their own quite nicely”, of course you mean YOU find that. I personally don’t think they rise to distinction among the other books you mention.) The scientific paragraphs in Ubiquitous are not bad by any means, but I don’t think they’re distinguished, and that’s enough to take it out of the running for me; one can hardly say “Let’s give the Newbery to the half of this book that’s distinguished!”.

  10. Jonathan Hunt says:

    I can’t speak to UBIQUITOUS because I don’t have it on hand, but I remember thinking that the poetry, sidebars, and book design in DARK EMPEROR made it a better Newbery contender. So while Sandy was talking about the sidebars in both books, I was only comparing DARK EMPEROR’s sidebars to BALLET FOR MARTHA, MARK TWAIN, KUBLA KHAN, and LIZARDS. I think the last book is a particularly apt comparison because it, too, is a science book with expository information, and I do think that the nonfiction vignettes in DARK EMPEROR are as good or better than the text of LIZARDS.

  11. Sandy D. says:

    So basically science writing for kids (and maybe largely for adults) is just…..uninspired.

    You know those collections of the year’s “Best American Science and Nature Writing”? I want some authors like the ones in those volumes writing for kids. But now I must go get Lizards out of the library.

  12. Jonathan Hunt says:

    1. The nonfiction vignettes fulfill all of the Newbery criteria for presentation of information. Accuracy? Check. Clarity? Check. Organization? Check.

    2. Moreover, the presentation of information is perfectly attuned to its young child audience (roughly the entire span of elementary school, that is, from kindergarten through sixth grade).

    3. We need to think of these not as nonfiction writing, but rather as extended captions. They serve to illuminate the poems (and they do this brilliantly), just as captions ought to illuminate an illustration rather than simply describing the obvious. The numerous captions in THEY CALLED THEMSELVES THE KKK, for example, may or may not be excellent, but I’m guessing that most of us are going to weight our evaluation of that book in favor of the narrative. And so it should be for DARK EMPEROR. The poems are the star; the extended captions are in a supporting role.

  13. Both UBIQUITOUS and DARK EMPEROR made the recently announced NSTA’s (national science teacher assoc) list of 2010 Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12. Some other recognizable titles from the list include: LIZARDS, KAKAPO RESCUE, HIVE DETECTIVES, EVERYBONE TELLS A STORY and PROJECT SEAHORSE. Check out the complete list here: http://www.nsta.org/pdfs/2011OSTBListLowresWithPressReleaseLink.pdf

    DARK EMPEROR is described as “Poetry and prose describe nocturnal animals; fact
    boxes relate directly to poetry.”

    UBIQUITOUS is described as “Lyric poetry and accurate facts.”

  14. Genevieve says:

    I don’t think baby porcupette is redundant — porcupette, like kitten, presumably means a young animal, but there’s baby and there’s older child (just like in humans, with baby, toddler, child). So a baby porcupette is a really young one.

  15. Wendy says:

    Once again with this “we” stuff! “We” don’t “need” to be looking at the informational parts in any particular way; I disagree that they are more like captions. (Maybe I should let this go, but I know I’m not the first to comment on this habit.) I won’t disagree that the information sections are supporting (especially in Dark Emperor; less so in Ubiquitous) and the poems have a larger role, but they are substantial, and I think they should be given due consideration. And I don’t think that to say they’re accurate and written at the appropriate age level is enough to edge them into “distinguished”. I’m sensing a reluctance to admit any flaws with this book. I like it, too, but what’s the point if we don’t dig deep? You’ve pointed out before, quite rightly, cases in which I and other readers have given a “pass” to books we love while sharply criticizing those we don’t–even if both books could be considered to have, say, the same problem with slow pacing or whatever.

  16. Nina Lindsay says:

    Wendy and Jonathan, do I have to separate you?

    Here’s my take: the sidebars here are certainly more substantial than in any other contender that we’re looking at. But they’re clearly “supportive.” They’re in the margin and they’re in small type.

    Can you enjoy the poetry on its own? Yes, but it’s richer with the sidebars. If I found the sidebars not as distinguished as others, then I’d feel like I’d have to make the case that the poems *on their own* stood up against other contenders. I think it would be reasonable to do that, to say that if the sidebars are less distinguished, that as long as the main text is still found to be “the most distinguished” then it can be a Newbery winner.

    Happily, I don’t feel like I need to make that argument because I think the sidebars are very strong. I appreciate how cleanly and easily narrative they are, at the same time that they are hugely informative.

    I don’t think that we’d have to find the sidebars stronger than any other science contender AND the poetry stronger than any other poetry contender. This is a single work of literature, encompassing several elements. We’ll expect to find some measure of excellence in every element “pertinent” to it (as for THE DREAMER, for instance), but then take a measure of the book as a whole.

  17. Wendy says:

    Oddly enough, I agree with all of that. While, as I mentioned, I thought the sidebars in Dark Emperor were stronger and worked better with the “package” than in Ubiquitous, I wonder if the fact that I’m not a poetry person makes the scientific paragraphs feel more prominent to me and some others than to you and Jonathan.

  18. Jonathan Hunt says:

    I think of DARK EMPEROR as a museum exhibit where the poetry and art are on display and then off to the side is a little plaque–the sidebars–that provides just enough context for the curious. The viewers, of course, are at leisure to experience the exhibit anyway they please. Those little plaques of information are important, but not fundamental. I have understated the significance of the sidebars a bit with this analogy, but I also I think it’s an overstatement to suggest that the poetry and sidebars are co-equal in terms of importance.

    The sidebars are expository writing; their primary purpose is to explain information clearly and concisely. The sidebars are not the only expository writing in the book: there is a glossary in the back of the book. I’m not sure what you expect from the sidebars, Sandy and Wendy, but it seems like you would like more of a creative nonfiction approach?

    Anyway, I do think the sidebars are distinguished writing (for what they are), but they are not *most* distinguished. But then every book that we have considered has the same conundrum. So, to my mind, this book does have a weakness. It’s not the sidebars, but rather this: Is every single poem Newbery worthy? Is there a weak link?

  19. Jonathan Hunt says:

    Do you think the sidebars in GOOD MASTERS! SWEET LADIES! are nonfiction writing at its finest?

  20. Them’s fighting words, Jonathan:) It has been a few years, but I recall feeling they were pretty darn good.

  21. Wendy says:

    Jonathan asked: “Do you think the sidebars in GOOD MASTERS! SWEET LADIES! are nonfiction writing at its finest?”

    Yes, to be honest.

    It’s an interesting question about whether one or some of the poems are weak, too weak for the Newbery. The poetry format is really the only one that lends itself to that consideration; we don’t go around asking whether every chapter in a novel is particularly strong or whether there’s one that’s weaker than the others. I think a chapter would really have to be bad for anyone to think about this. In a way that doesn’t seem fair, yet, as we’ve said, what we’re asking is whether this novel/non-fiction/poetry collection is the best ____ it can be, so I suppose it is fair.

    Do I expect creative non-fiction? No, not really, though it’s possible another approach might have worked better for me. As far as I know Sidman is known as a poet, so it isn’t too surprising that her expository writing doesn’t rise to the heights of her poetry (in my opinion). I wish I could say exactly what would have made the scientific sections more distinguished to me; I was a Cybils judge for non-fiction last year, so it’s definitely an interest of mine, but it’s much easier for me to recognize than explain. Perhaps a stronger voice and connection to the theme would have done it for me.

  22. Jonathan Hunt says:

    Okay, I’m home now and just had an opportunity to look at GOOD MASTERS! SWEET LADIES! again. There are quite a few footnotes in the margin and occasional longer sections on background information, but both kinds of expository writing seem to serve the same function as Sidman’s sidebars, and, honestly, to me, they seem to be of a comparable quality. I know we are only comparing DARK EMPEROR to other books published this year (and I guess we can say that its sidebars are better than UBIQUITOUS), but obviously I’m looking for precedent in the Newbery canon.

    I think poetry collections and short story collections are especially prone to the “weakest link” criticism, which is perhaps one reason why the Newbery Medal-winning poetry collections (JOYFUL NOISE and A VISIT TO WILLIAM BLAKE’S INN) have been short collections. They are better served by having fewer poems, but excellent ones with a strong thematic focus. Less is more. I believe that GRAVEN IMAGES is the only short story collection to win Newbery recognition (unless you include things like WHAT HEARTS and A LONG WAY FROM CHICAGO where the stories share characters), and again: only three stories in the collection.

  23. Sandy D. says:

    Ah, museum signs. They are a sad, sad business, partially because many (most?) people don’t read them. They are like the lists of ingredients on foods, but there is so much more to the exhibits. A good docent or a recording (with music!) is so much more interesting.

    I don’t want to see creative nonfiction so much as I want to see the same passion, the same elegance, the same amazing choice of words and unique style in the sidebars. Science doesn’t have to be dull – the information in the sidebars *is* fascinating and I’d like to see some of the same sly humor and insight that shines through the poems also appear in the prose.

    And I did think the sidebars in “Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!” were just as fine as the…monologues? I can’t remember what to call the passages. In fact, I remember nodding to myself, saying “THIS is how history should be taught”.

  24. Sandy D. says:

    I think you are definitely right about the weakest link problem with poetry collections, though. It seems rather unfair. If I judged novels by their weakest chapters, I would have to change my opinions on lots of books.

  25. Jonathan Hunt says:

    Well, on p. 18 of GOOD MASTERS! SWEET LADIES! there are four footnotes in the margin.

    An egg white makes a good dressing because it’s relatively sterile. Comfrey is still used to treat cuts and bruises.

    The five kind of fever were hectic, pestilential, daily or quotidian, tertian, and quartan. Fevers were classified according to how often they recurred.

    The four humors–associated with the four elements of earth, air, water, and fire–were melancholic (cold and dry), sanguine (hot and moist), choleric (hot and dry), and phlegmatic (cold and moist). Good health depended on keeping these four humors in balance.

    Doctors knew astrology and believed that stars could influence the well-being of their patients.

    Are these really more distinguished than the sidebars in DARK EMPEROR? Really?!?!

  26. Wendy says:

    Come on. Those aren’t the same things at all. Compare the expository PARAGRAPHS in GMSL to those in Dark Emperor. If you must.

    (Though actually, I do think the footnotes you quote–which are more similar to the photo captions you brought up earlier–show an unusual flair and have an excellent way of carrying through the theme and mood of the rest of the writing.)

    Tales from Silver Lands and Shen of the Sea are both short story collections that won the Newbery–and, of course, GMSL itself, however you might classify that–and I think there are several more among the honors.

  27. Jonathan Hunt says:

    Well–footnote, sidebar, whatever–it’s all just information dumping. If you think the longer sections, “A Little Background,” are much better than the footnotes in GOOD MASTERS! SWEET LADIES!, then here’s the first paragraph of the first section.

    The three-field system was typical of farming during the Middle Ages. Landowners knew that if they sowed the same crop in the same field, year after year, the harvest would be poor. Each year, one field was allowed to lie fallow, and the other two would be planted with a crop different from the one planted there the year before.

    I’m not having a problem recognizing this as Medal-caliber writing. I’m having a problem recognizing how it’s markedly different than what we see in DARK EMPEROR. What are the stylistic qualities inherent in Schlitz’s sidebars that are absent in Sidman’s? I’m just not seeing much difference, I’m afraid.

  28. Jonathan Hunt says:

    Regarding Newbery short stories, let’s all make sure to read the upcoming Sunday Brunch at Collecting Children’s Books to find out just how many there are total (Medal and Honor). :-)

  29. In the Beginning: Creation Stories from Around the World by Virginia Hamilton is another short story collection with a Newbery Honor

  30. Sandy D. says:

    The little captions and separate historical sections in GM!SL! are just more interesting, more charming, especially in the way she links them to the characters. It’s straightforward without seeming pedantic. It’s hard to make “The Three Field System” relevant to modern readers, but Schlitz manages – not so much with the paragraph Jonathan cited, but with the following paragraphs, where she talks about Will’s father sharing labor, and how it was hard for the peasants if the fields weren’t close together. If it was just the first paragraph, then yes, it would be very much like the sidebars in Sidman’s books. And I think that section is the most boring of the many explanatory ones, too. Agricultural economy is just hard to write about in an entertaining way.

    And then there’s little snippets like this in GM!SL!: “Friants are boar droppings.” – “A farmer consoled a dying sheep by playing her guitar and singing through the night. The sheep recovered.” They’re just fun, as well as true. They give you a glimpse at the otherness, the weirdness in everyday things and beliefs that made the Middle Ages so different from today – and not just because they didn’t have the same technology.

    This is soooo markedly different from the sidebars in most history books. I think Sidman’s sidebars are good, they’re just not outstanding, like the poetry is. I love the fact that the sidebars inform the reader about the creatures in the poems and the poems bring the sidebars to life, though. That is truly inspired, and part of why I would pick Sidman’s book for a Newbery contender.

  31. Nina Lindsay says:

    Well, I think the asides in GMSL are uber-distinguised, and probably more than Sidman’s, but for the purposes of our the Newbery discussion *ultimately*, Sidmnan’s don’t have to stand up to Schlitz’s.

    I still don’t get Wendy and Sandy’s claim that Sidman’s sidebar language is not distinguished. I actually find the non-scientist-poetic voice to be refreshing, and allows for readers to see otherwise “dry” information in an evocative way. She uses words choicely and wisely, and communicates the information narratively. I think that it in fact deceptively simple and clear, and that these sidebards might be suffering from the same kind of “prejudice” that easy readers and early chapter books fall prey to.

  32. Jonathan Hunt says:

    Again, I’m not arguing that the sidebars in GMSL are not distinguished, but I still don’t see much of a difference in the quality of the sidebars/footnotes in GMSL and the sidebars in DE, aside from length. Do you think it’s possible that you learned more from the sidebars in GMSL while there was nothing necessarily new or startling or extraordinary in DE–just enough to illuminate the poems, but not necessarily extend them?

  33. Sandy D. says:

    OK, you’ve convinced me to go back and re-read all the sidebars and see if I find them deceptively simple and clear. I really wanted to be moved by them the same way I was by (many of) the poems. Instead I was vaguely disappointed that the sidebars didn’t match the brilliance of the poetry.

  34. Jonathan Hunt says:

    I think we can all agree that the DARK EMPEROR sidebars do a great job of supporting the poetry. What I’m unclear about is whether you think the actual writing suffers from a “deceptively clear and simple” style or whether you think the content just isn’t very interesting.

    You mentioned lots of interesting tidbits about the Middle Ages that Schlitz included in her sidebars and footnotes. I do think the content of the DARK EMPEROR sidebars seems pedestrian in comparison. I think this is a larger issue we wrestle with in nonfiction writing. If I learn something new and interesting and exciting does that make it better written? If it covers something I already know, and I don’t learn much, does that make it harder for me to accept it as excellent writing?

    So again my question for you, Sandy, as you read through the sidebars is this: Is it the actual writing that you find undistinguished because it is too simple and clear? Or is it that the content is lackluster? I mean there has to be something more odd and fascinating and interesting about, say, the primrose moth than what Sidman included. I’m sure there is, and I’m sure she knows it, but she only put information in the sidebar that was relevant to the poem (and vice versa). The information is there to inform the poem, not to teach you everything you wanted to know about the primrose but were afraid to ask.

    I don’t mean to anticipate your concerns or put words in your mouth, Sandy, but I’m interested to hear about your second look.

  35. Sandy D. says:

    OK, I read the sidebars again (kind of nice this was such a short task, it must be hard for Committee members to go over all the books multiple times, picking out different aspects to judge).

    Anyway, the sidebars are not *too* simple or clear, and the content certainly isn’t lackluster – but you may be right that I wasn’t as “wowed” by it because it is indeed material I know pretty well. Though I still did learn a few things!

    I think it’s a stylistic thing, more than anything else. Sidman uses a lot of dashes – like this – which is something I do in my technical/science writing, too, but it often gets edited out (along with my excess parentheses). Maybe I’m unfairly comparing it to the poems? I just want a little bit of this sense of wonder that permeates the poems to come through in the prose, too. I know it can be done because I’ve read nature writing (and even some science!) that stops me in my tracks, the same way the best fiction does.

    Ironically, I found the sidebars in “Dark Emperor” much better than in “Ubiquitous”, whereas as you know I absolutely loved the poems in “Ubiquitous” and just liked most of them in “Dark Emperor”. I’m pretty sure a lot of that is because I like the theme better, which isn’t exactly one of the Newbery criteria.

    I know it’s also not relevant to the medal, but Rick Allen’s artwork has grown on me. I think I was just comparing him to Becky Prange too much. Allen’s art is different, but pretty wonderful in its own right, and maybe is actually better suited to “Dark Emperor’s” theme.

  36. Sandy D. says:

    And I feel bad saying this, because goodness knows I couldn’t write those sidebars myself, but the sidebars strike me a bit pedantic, especially in Ubiquitous. I honestly don’t know how this could have been avoided – maybe it’s just not possible in such a short information-packed format. And maybe it is the contrast with the poems – but that is conversely one of the things I love about these books, how Sidman shows that both the science and the beauty (or power, or essence) of her natural subjects.

Speak Your Mind

*