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AFTER DARK by David L. Harrison


Poems About Nocturnal Animals

by David L. Harrison ; illustrated by Stephanie Laberis

Pub Date: Feb. 25th, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-62979-717-5
Publisher: Wordsong/Boyds Mills

Who’s out at night, and what do they do? These poems answer that for you.

Shhhh, listen… / Hear that howling? / Dogs don’t howl, / not like that.” It’s coyotes that are on the hunt, and everyone from mouse to deer better be on the lookout. Harrison’s night is broadly populated. Some mark their territory or hide from large predators. A mother skunk teaches her children not to venture into the road. Fireflies flash looking for mates in the grass, a little as though the insects are texting one another. Meanwhile: “Along a path of slime / you softly flow, / scraping holes in petals / as you go”; the leopard slug eats hollyhocks and daffodils, all the while leaving a slimy trail as proof it was there in the night. The Mexican free-tail bat is on bug patrol. Twenty-one animals who live by the light of the moon get profiled in Harrison’s poems, written in a variety of forms, some rhymed and most not. Each is featured in a one- or two-page spread with realistic, appropriately dark, attractive illustrations by Laberis. Though none are anthropomorphized, they still have plenty of personality. A kit fox yawns luxuriantly; a flathead catfish opens its huge mouth to suck in a hapless frog. Two pages of backmatter reveal four further facts about each profiled animal.

A fine collection of poetical odes to a nicely diverse group of nighttime fauna.

(Picture book/poetry. 7-12)