Reviews for Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night

Booklist Reviews 2010 June #1
*Starred Review* Like Sidman's Caldecott Honor Book, Song of the Water Boatman and Other Pond Poems (2005), this picture book combines lyrical poetry and compelling art with science concepts. Here, poems about the woods at night reveal exciting biology facts that are explained in long notes on each double-page spread. In a poem about crickets, lines describe "the raucous scrape / of wing against wing," while a prose passage explains that the cricket's wing has a serrated "file," which the cricket rubs against a hard "scraper" on its other wing to attract a mate, creating a sound called "stridulation" that can swell to deafening levels. The facts are further reinforced in the accompanying picture, which shows the small file on a cricket's wing. In an opening note, Allen explains his elaborate, linoleum-block printmaking technique, and each atmospheric image shows the creatures and the dense, dark forest with astonishing clarity. Looking closely at a picture of a snail, for example, readers will see the physical detail, described in an adjacent poem, in the small animals' moist, sluglike bodies, "riding on a cushion of slime." The thrilling title poem captures the drama of predator and prey: a mouse in the undergrowth flees an owl's "hooked face and / hungry eye." A final glossary concludes this excellent, cross-curricular title. Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2011 Spring
Sidman celebrates the world that comes alive after dark; each poem is accompanied by an informative paragraph that also exhibits her flair for language. The dark lines of Allen's skillful lino cut prints make the perfect accompaniment to a book of night poems, their subtle colors encouraging readers to seek out the creatures slowly, just as eyes become accustomed to the dark. Glos. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2010 #5
>From the opening poem, "To all of you who crawl and creep, / who buzz and chirp and hoot and peep, / who wake at dusk and throw off sleep: / Welcome to the night," Sidman celebrates the world that comes alive after dark. As in her previous collections (Song of the Water Boatman & Other Pond Poems, rev. 5/05; Butterfly Eyes and Other Secrets of the Meadow, rev. 9/06), she accompanies each poem with an informative paragraph, her flair for language still present in these nonfiction passages. She highlights not just random facts but small nuggets of information that catch the imagination: "At night they emerge to search for food, riding on a cushion of slime, which protects them from sharp objects." The "Dark Emperor" of the title is of course the owl, whose poem is in the shape of the owl, while the accompanying picture shows the mouse who addresses him in terror. The dark lines of Allen's skillful lino cut prints make the perfect accompaniment to a book of night poems, with their subtle colors allowing the reader to seek out the creatures slowly, just as one's eye becomes accustomed to finding things in the dark. A final glossary explains less familiar words such as nocturnal and stridulation, and even the double-page spreads that open and close the book help tell the story, with one showing the owl at sunset and the other at sunrise. susan dove lempke Copyright 2010 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2010 August #2

"Welcome to the night!" cries the opening poem in this celebration of nocturnal life. Everything from snails to mushrooms has a role to play and something different to say (the title is taken from a concrete poem about a horned owl, narrated by its would-be prey: "Perched missile,/ almost invisible, you/ preen silent feathers,/ swivel your sleek satellite/ dish of a head"). Spiders offer advice, porcupettes pirouette, and the moon laments the dawn, all illuminated by debut talent Allen's detailed yet moody prints, which encapsulate the mysteries and magic of the midnight hours. Opposite each poem is a short note on the featured creature, explaining its appearance and habits. In Sidman's delicious poems, darkness is the norm, and there's nothing to fear but the rising sun. Ages 6-9. (Sept.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2010 August

Gr 3-6--Sidman continues her explorations of natural history in this set of poems about nocturnal life in the forest. As in her other collections, each selection is set in an expansive spread that includes a factual discussion of the featured subject. The illustrations are bold, richly detailed linoleum prints colored in gouache. The 12 poems are led by a scene setting "Welcome to the Night" and go on to feature 9 different creatures and some mushrooms with a concluding lament by the moon as night fades into morning. Sidman adroitly applies varied poetic forms and rhyme schemes. The title's dark emperor, the great horned owl, lends its shape to the one concrete poem, and the closing lament is in the medieval style known as an ubi sunt. The poetry is reflective and at times philosophical. "Build a frame/and stick to it,/I always say./Life's a circle….Eat your triumphs,/eat your mistakes:/that way your belly/will always be full…," advises the night spider. Other poems are playful and some just a bit confusing. The porcupine poem explains that the infant of this species is known as a porcupette; the repeated use of "baby porcupette" seems oddly redundant. The bookmaking is beautiful with the concept of night lending itself generously to poetry. It invites lingering enjoyment for nature and poetry fans, and, as with Sidman's earlier collections, it might be used with varied curriculums.--Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston

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