Reviews for Strange Place to Call Home : The World's Most Dangerous Habitats & the Animals That Call Them Home


Booklist Reviews 2012 October #2
Why would some animals choose to live in extreme heat, cold, dryness, or darkness? Fourteen poems celebrate the unusual animals that have adapted to equally unusual habitats where competition is lighter and safety from predators is greater. Humboldt penguins burrow eggs along the dry coasts of Chile and Peru rather than riding on ice floes; snow monkeys stay warm by huddling in hot springs rather than swinging from trees; and ice worms wriggle beneath glacial ice rather than soil, aided by their natural antifreeze. Other poems, including the styles of free verse, rhyming, haiku, triolet, villanelle, and terza rima, describe the adaptations of blind cave fish, mudskippers, mountain goats, and petroleum flies. The final poem, "City Living," shows adaptation in progress as red foxes adjust to urban sprawl. Young's textured paper collage illustrations help evoke some of the planet's seemingly less hospitable locales. Endnotes offer more information about each animal as well as the poetry forms used. This enlightening collection brings beauty and respect to strangeness. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Spring
This book about exotic animals that inhabit Earth's intemperate environments is a successful mingling of elegant poetry with the natural sciences. Singer introduces facts via poems in free verse and traditional forms such as haiku, triolet, and sonnet. Young's textured, thoughtful collages, as well as endnotes on the animals discussed and on poetry forms, make for a unique and well-rounded volume.

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Kirkus Reviews 2012 August #1
Poems in varied forms urge readers to marvel at animals living in surprising environments. The prolific poet (Fireflies at Midnight, 2003) again celebrates the natural world, here describing 14 creatures surviving in unlikely places. From Humboldt penguins on arid South American coasts to foxes in cities, Singer points out the contrast between our expectations and their lives. Worms in ice, flies in oil, swimming songbirds and fish in the air…her choices range widely. Though the focus is their odd surroundings, she weaves in information about some of their interesting adaptations as well. Her poetry features judicious use of rhyme and alliteration. Some is free verse; others are written in traditional forms, described in an author's note in the back. They're set directly on double-page illustrations, collages of painted and textured papers, cut and torn, which, though reminiscent of Eric Carle and Steve Jenkins, have Young's irregular lines, distinctive brushwork and soft colors. This is a book for enjoyment rather than information. An additional paragraph about each creature appears in the endnotes, but these don't always answer the basic question of where it might be found. The author acknowledges some expert help but provides no source or index. A felicitous pairing of two children's literature pros to encourage our sense of wonder. (Picture book/poetry. 5-12) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 August #2

Singer (A Stick Is an Excellent Thing) approaches zoology from a literary standpoint in 14 idiosyncratic poems, with cut-and-torn-paper imagery by Young (The House Baba Built). Each spread features one species and the bizarre conditions in which it thrives. Ice worms squirm "beneath the glacial ice/ helped by their own antifreeze." Flamingos feature in a villanelle set in the salt flats they occupy: "This harsh and salty land--/ Flamingos find it grand." Torn, fibrous brown papers, representing a sandstorm, dwarf a nearly hidden camel; crumpled iridescent paper suggests the shimmery wings of petroleum flies: "Thousands/ of them are born/ in carrion, water,/ or soil. But not this crew. They hatch/ in oil." Endnotes provide paragraph-length descriptions of each creature, yet the experimental verse and minimalist collage can keep the remarkable animals abstract and distant (" limpet is resourceful/ Its fine construction/ employs suction./ In other words, its thing/ is mightily to cling"). Better shared than read solo, Singer's poems marvel at unlikely existences. Ages 6-9. Agent: Brenda Bowen, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. Illustrator's agent: Edward Necarsulmer IV, McIntosh & Otis. (Sept.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2012 September

Gr 4-8--Singer's poetic celebration of 14 animal species is fascinating, enlightening, and strikingly illustrated. The featured birds, mammals, fish, amphibians, insects, and mollusks have all adapted, over centuries, to life in extreme environments such as ice floes, salt lakes, and pools of oil, where they have found safety from predators and less competition for food. Many of the poems have unique, lilting rhythms; some are written in unusual poetic forms-triolet, cinquain, villanelle, terza rima-others in free verse and varying rhyme schemes. Singer demonstrates her ability to create vivid mental pictures in as few as two to five words. (The dipper-a songbird that eats aquatic insects and fish from clear streams and waterfalls-is "bathtub-toy small"; the limpet-a shelled sea creature's "…fine construction/employs suction." Singer has incorporated definitions of unusual words: "simoon," "hydrothermal vents," "intertidal zone," into her poems. Young, master of collage, has created a series of perfectly engineered stylized pieces that accurately portray the poeticized creatures by oh, so carefully piecing together torn and cut paper of varying thicknesses; photo segments showing lots of texture (prickly cacti, dune grasses, fur, wood, clouds, fibrous materials); foil; small basket clippings; pictures from magazines; and much painted paper. Six pages of endnotes include details on each animal species, along with brief information and a Web address that offer further details on poetic forms. This lovely, informative volume will attract poetry and animal lovers and prove useful in the classroom, as well.--Susan Scheps, formerly at Shaker Public Library, Ohio

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