Hawks Kettle, Puffins Wheel, and Other Poems of Birds in Flight – Susan Vande Griek, illustrated by Mark Hoffmann

   Hawks Kettle, Puffins Wheel, and Other Poems of Birds in Flight – Susan Vande Griek, illustrated by Mark Hoffmann, Kids Can Press, 9781771389952, 2019

Format: Hardcover

Rating:  1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5+

 What did you like about the book? This book is an interesting mix of poetry, facts, and illustrations dealing with the unique movements of birds. Twelve different birds are featured including crows, geese, hummingbirds, eagles, and the sandpiper, just to name a few. Each two-page spread features a poem about the distinctive movements of the bird, an illustration of the bird in action, and a brief paragraph containing some very interesting facts about each bird. Because the book is about movement, every aspect of the pages seems to be moving–the poem about the geese is shaped like their V-formation in flight and the poem about the peregrine is sloping down a mountain just as an illustration of the peregrine is soaring to the ground. The facts about these birds are very interesting (and made me search the internet for some more information!)–a plunging peregrine can reach speeds of 185 miles per hour, bald eagles lock talons in mid air and cartwheel toward the ground in a dangerous spiral (a mating ritual), and hummingbirds flap their wings as much as 70 times per minute.

 Anything you did not like about the book. Nothing

To whom would you recommend this book? This would be perfect for 7-10 year olds. This is an ideal book for children who enjoy nature because I think children will enjoy the facts as they are presented in both the poems and the brief paragraph about each bird. There are additional facts and illustrations in the back of the book that provide even more information about each bird. Even if a child is more interested in bird facts and not as interested in poetry, I think children will appreciate the facts contained within the poems.

Who should buy this book? Public and elementary school libraries, especially science classrooms.

Where would you shelve it? This is tricky because it is both poetry and nonfiction and the cover appears like it would be a picture book. I would shelve it in a beginner nonfiction section because I think it will get lost in more factual books about birds in a juvenile nonfiction section. I would not shelve it in poetry because there is more nonfiction material than poetry so it does not make sense to shelve solely in poetry.

 Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes, because the poems contain interesting information about various birds, it might give children an opportunity to see another kind of poetry–used to convey nonfiction material.

 Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Kristin Guay, former youth services librarian.

Date of review: November 15, 2019


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