strange place to call home

A Strange Place to Call Home: the World’s Most Dangerous Habitats & the Animals That Call Them Home by Marilyn Singer, illustrated by Ed Young

Through evocative poetry, this book explores habitats that you would never guess something could even survive in.  But they do!  There are creatures who live in places with no water, no warmth, little food.  And those are the creatures that star in this book, each of them celebrated in verse.  There are penguins, mountain goats, and camels, which may be the animals that came to mind.  But Singer looks deeper than that and introduces unlikely creatures to readers, including petroleum flies that hatch in oil, ice worms that live in glaciers, and blind cave fish from Texas and Mexico.  She takes these creatures, known and unknown, and gives us a glimpse of them and their habitat in a variety of poetry forms.  Each page is a discovery of a new animal and a new type of poetry.

Singer excels at creating poetry that is artistic and has depth and yet offers young readers an approach to verse that is welcoming.  She writes at their level yet doesn’t ever play down to them.  Since some of the haikus and other forms are quite brief, it’s nice that she offers paragraphs of information at the end of the book on each creature.  At the very end of the book, she also speaks to the variety of poetic forms she has employed in the book.

Young’s illustrations add another layer of beauty into the book.  Through his layered paper art, he creates a red forest of flamingo legs, a swirl of desert sands, foaming rivers, and an urban landscape among many others.  His work embraces the diverse habitats, recreating the harshness and the often subtle richness of these unknown worlds.

A great pick for poetry units or units on habitats, this book offers a perfect blend of verse, science and art.  Appropriate for ages 7-10.

Reviewed from copy received from publisher.