Marie's Reviews > Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night

Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night by Joyce Sidman
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Mar 11, 12

bookshelves: picture-books, poetry
Read from March 08 to 09, 2012

Dark Emperor & Other Poems of the Night, what an intriguing title! Joyce Sidman’s poetry and Rick Allen’s illustrations capture the reader’s attention from the front cover and every page there after. As the title indicates each poem eloquently describes the nocturnal creatures we daytime creatures don’t often pay attention to (snail, owl, eft and even a tree).

Sidman chose her words wisely to convey the beauty of the night. The twelve poems starting with sunset and ending with sunrise are written in various poetry forms, some in rhyming couplets and others in free verse.

“The night’s a sea of dappled dark,
the night’s a feast of sound and spark,
the night’s a wild, enchanted park.
Welcome to the night!”

The poetry is written on the left page of this landscape-style book. Illustrations are wisely placed on the right page along with additional interesting information about that creature. I especially enjoyed Night-Spider’s Advice. Sidman captured the voice of the wise orb spider, “Use what you have. Rest when you need to. Dawn will come soon enough. Someone has to remake the world each night. It might as well be you.” I learned from the additional information that most orb spiders eat their damaged webs. There is a helpful glossary of terms at the end of the book. It is clear how this book won the ALA Notable Book for 2011. However, I feel there should be an author’s note that gives additional information about what poetic form each poem is. I feel this was a missed opportunity to inform readers new to poetry with her beautiful examples.

Allen’s gouache illustrations are so well drawn the reader can almost feel the texture of the owl’s fur or the bark of the trees. Each illustration was colorful but set in heavy dark trimmed outline contrasting the dappled blue night.

Novelist Plus suggests a Lexile reading rate of 1020 (6th grade) and a grade level of K-3rd grade. The classroom uses of this text are numerous. It could be read aloud to younger children and the term nocturnal discussed. In addition, the habitat of the creatures discussed can be drawn as a response to reading. Students could use this text as a culminating study of poetry forms. After reading each poem aloud a discussion of it’s form can be discussed and the class as a whole can determine what form it portrays. Additional lessons can be found on the author’s webpage http://www.joycesidman.com/darkempero...

Students’ interested in the poetry and science facts might also enjoy, Song of the Water Boatman & Other Pond Poems also by Sidman but illustrated by Beckie Prange.
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