African Acrostics: A Word in Edgeways by Avis Harley, photographs by Deborah Noyes
Acrostic poems are very popular, especially for children to write on their own. But you haven’t seen anything like the acrostics in this book. Harley creates acrostics that have words not only in their first letters but both the first and last letters. She has one poem with five hidden words and others that use letters in patterns rather than the first letter. But her real achievement is in making acrostics that are such good poetry that one forgets they are reading acrostics at all and just enjoys the flow and
rhythm of the poems.
So many acrostics are stodgy and dull due to the constraints of the form. Harley seemed to take that as a challenge to overcome. She certainly did just that. The book is very welcoming and children will relate immediately to the form of the poems. Noyes photographs are clear and crisp, working well with the poems. She took them primarily in Namibia and offers her perspective in a note at the end of the book. The book also has information on acrostics, showing readers the more complicated forms that were used in the book. There are also nature notes with more information on the animals in the book.
Pair children, animals and good poetry and you have a real winning book. This book elevates a poetic form to new heights. Appropriate for ages 5-8.
Reviewed from library copy.