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Literary pick of the week:

An animal poem for every day of the year is the Season’s Best

December 19, 2021 | | Source:

So many beautiful books with lyrical texts were published this year, it’s hard to chose one as This Season’s Best. But we chose, anyway. Kudos to “Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright,” made of an animal poem for each day of the year, a big, lavishly-illustrated anthology. The poetry spans the centuries, from William Blake (he of the Tiger! Tiger!), Lewis Carroll and Emily Dickinson, to contemporary writers including Judith Viorst, Margaret Wise Brown and Jane Yolen, as well as some from the Seneca Nation of Indians and Cheyenne and Chippewa tribes.

Oh, and what wonderful, lively, fish, birds and animals fly, strut, jump, hop and swim across the pages: buffalo, birds, kangaroos. Whatever animal is your favorite, you will probably find a poem about it.

The special thing about this 4.5-pound book is that it can be enjoyed by all ages. Even the little ones who have to be read to can laugh at short poems like this anonymous one titled “The Grasshopper and the Elephant”:

Way down south where bananas grow
grasshopper stepped on Elephant’s toe.
Elephant said, with tears in his eyes:
“Pick on somebody your own size.”

If you had this book in your lap now (and that’s the only way to hold it), and turned to December, you would find poems by William Carlos Williams, Thomas Hardy and Stephen Spender.

The three-stanza poem for Dec. 19 is “The Yak” by Jack Prelutsky, former Poetry Foundation Children’s Poet Laureate:

Yickity-yackity, yickity-yak,
the yak has a scriffily, scraffily back;
some yaks are brown yaks and some yaks are black,
yickity-yackity, yickity-yak…..

“Tiger, Tiger” follows the award-winning “I Am the Seed That Grew the Tree,” 365 poems about nature. The new volume, published in the United Kingdom last year, is making its first appearance in the United States now at $40. It is published here by Nosy Crow, a division of Candlewick Press. The poems were selected by bookseller, author, publisher and reviewer Fiona Waters and the splendid illustrations are by Britta Teckentrup. They did a terrific job.

We hope this book stands for every book we recommended in 2021. We thank our devoted readers and those who just drop in on us now and then.


“Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright,” published in the United Kingdom last year, is making its first appearance in the United States in 2021, published by Nosy Crow, a division of Candlewick Press. (Courtesy photo)