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Animal Ark: Celebrating our Wild World in Poetry and Pictures

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A howling wolf, a stalking tiger, a playful panda, a dancing bird - pairing the stunning photography of National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore with the delicate poetry of Newbery award-winning author Kwame Alexander, this lush picture book celebrates the beauty, diversity, and fragility of the animal world. Featuring more than 40 unique animal portraits, the pages in A howling wolf, a stalking tiger, a playful panda, a dancing bird - pairing the stunning photography of National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore with the delicate poetry of Newbery award-winning author Kwame Alexander, this lush picture book celebrates the beauty, diversity, and fragility of the animal world. Featuring more than 40 unique animal portraits, the pages invite kids to explore each creature's markings, textures, and attributes in stunning detail, while calling on all of us to help protect each and every one. Three picture-packed gatefolds inside showcase even more familiar and exotic species. These images are part of Sartore's lifelong project to photograph every animal in the world, with special attention given to disappearing and endangered species.


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A howling wolf, a stalking tiger, a playful panda, a dancing bird - pairing the stunning photography of National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore with the delicate poetry of Newbery award-winning author Kwame Alexander, this lush picture book celebrates the beauty, diversity, and fragility of the animal world. Featuring more than 40 unique animal portraits, the pages in A howling wolf, a stalking tiger, a playful panda, a dancing bird - pairing the stunning photography of National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore with the delicate poetry of Newbery award-winning author Kwame Alexander, this lush picture book celebrates the beauty, diversity, and fragility of the animal world. Featuring more than 40 unique animal portraits, the pages invite kids to explore each creature's markings, textures, and attributes in stunning detail, while calling on all of us to help protect each and every one. Three picture-packed gatefolds inside showcase even more familiar and exotic species. These images are part of Sartore's lifelong project to photograph every animal in the world, with special attention given to disappearing and endangered species.

30 review for Animal Ark: Celebrating our Wild World in Poetry and Pictures

  1. 5 out of 5

    Caterina

    Gorgeous book with a visual, minimalist approach: a collection of brilliantly colored animal and insect photographs, each set on stark black or white background and complemented by a lively haiku by poet Kwame Alexander. Alexander explains in his end note that he has found haiku the most powerful, effective, and well-received kind of poetry with young children. The book's subtitle is misleading. National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore's Photo Ark project - the source of these images - aims Gorgeous book with a visual, minimalist approach: a collection of brilliantly colored animal and insect photographs, each set on stark black or white background and complemented by a lively haiku by poet Kwame Alexander. Alexander explains in his end note that he has found haiku the most powerful, effective, and well-received kind of poetry with young children. The book's subtitle is misleading. National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore's Photo Ark project - the source of these images - aims to photograph every captive species of animal all over the world, as Sartore explains in his end note. He encourages his readers to "talk to your family about becoming a member of your local zoo or aquarium. They're the real arks now, working hard every day to save everything from aardvarks to zebras." So look for another book to address truly wild animals -- whether in "wild nature" or their more common urban, suburban and rural habitats. The book's contextless approach bothered me a bit -- although the animals' beauty does stand out (as Sartore intended) on the plain black or white background. (This becomes ironic when the animal's camouflage is mentioned in the haiku.) The lack of scale speaks to Sartore's intention to consider small animals equal in importance to large. But we get no sense whatsoever of habitat let alone ecosystem. We don't know how or where in the world these animals live or where they fit into the web of life. Each photograph is accompanied by a two letter code relevant to the animals' level of endangerment, if any, but the key explaining that code is hidden at the back of the book, where a few, but not all, of the animals are identified by species name and continent. Given the title “Ark” I would have liked at least to see the male and female of each species -- we don't know that either, nor whether we are looking at juveniles or adults. Images of family groups and animal communities would be even better, in keeping with the goal of nurturing and preserving species from extinction. But that would be another book. At first I felt the text was a little too guilt-trip-inducing but maybe I’m a bit put off by the cliché of saving the planet — as if Gaia needed us. (But perhaps she does -- perhaps she loves us as a mother loves her problem child?) And I do believe we can learn to do better by our co-inhabitants, and these captive animals are as dependent on us pets. So, appreciate this book for what it's meant to be: a source of awe and inspiration at the beauty of the strange and wonderful beings with whom we share our home.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Andréa

    I love Joel Sartore's animal photography (I follow him on Instagram), but as a book, this just didn't work for me. It was too disjointed.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth☮

    I read this while browsing in the book store. Oh my. The pictures are dramatic and so beautiful. And the book is written in haiku and the English teacher in me just sighed contentedly.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Vera Godley

    These photographs are absolutely fantastic. The photographer's talent (and patience) involved in capturing the images is superb. True to National Geographic quality, the book presents a child's view of animals that National Geographic is capturing in their photographic animal ark where they are storing images of as many critters as possible. Some may in the future become extinct and these images will have historic and naturalistic value. Children and adults alike will enjoy looking and learning These photographs are absolutely fantastic. The photographer's talent (and patience) involved in capturing the images is superb. True to National Geographic quality, the book presents a child's view of animals that National Geographic is capturing in their photographic animal ark where they are storing images of as many critters as possible. Some may in the future become extinct and these images will have historic and naturalistic value. Children and adults alike will enjoy looking and learning from this delightful picture book. The sparse text invites the reader to "look into their eyes" and "sing our names." And lyric lines such as..... "wings like a cape, ready for flight into the sweet, dark night." "how many feathers.... does it take to make a wing to fly, share sky" I received a complimentary copy to facilitate a review. Opinions are my own and freely given.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Mrs Mommy Booknerd http://mrsmommybooknerd.blogspot.com

    First, are you kidding me with this cover...supreme cuteness overload!!! A baby sloth?!?!? Come on...so adorable! This book poem is AMAZING...the pictures, the words dancing along the pages allowing the reader to be introduced to so many animals is a reading sensation. This book is sheer joy, love and smiles from cover to cover!!! This book focuses on the need to conserve the beauty of nature, to embrace the all the animals and to take care of the world we live in. This book highlights every spe First, are you kidding me with this cover...supreme cuteness overload!!! A baby sloth?!?!? Come on...so adorable! This book poem is AMAZING...the pictures, the words dancing along the pages allowing the reader to be introduced to so many animals is a reading sensation. This book is sheer joy, love and smiles from cover to cover!!! This book focuses on the need to conserve the beauty of nature, to embrace the all the animals and to take care of the world we live in. This book highlights every species in captivity...let that sink in...that is no small feat. This book is such a gift to the world to showcase and highlight these amazing creatures for future generations to see. There are 100 pictures to see within this book and they are all stunning, vibrant and awe inspiring. I have never really seen a book like this before and that is what makes it so special. This book is a MUST for everyone to own a copy...it is really that wonderful. Buy it, you won't regret it...I PROMISE!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kid Lit Reviews

    Animal Ark kicks off Poetry Month, and if you like animals you will be amazed at Joel Sartore’s photographs. His work has always been sensational, but Animal Ark registers in the range of Fantastic! As you turn the pages of this must-have picture book, you will understand. And there is no poet worthy of kicking off this poetic month than Newbery medalist, Kwame Alexander. Sartore’s photographs are amazing. Photographed against a solid background of white or black, each spread pops with one or mor Animal Ark kicks off Poetry Month, and if you like animals you will be amazed at Joel Sartore’s photographs. His work has always been sensational, but Animal Ark registers in the range of Fantastic! As you turn the pages of this must-have picture book, you will understand. And there is no poet worthy of kicking off this poetic month than Newbery medalist, Kwame Alexander. Sartore’s photographs are amazing. Photographed against a solid background of white or black, each spread pops with one or more animals in wonderful high-contrast detail. Alexander’s words tell us more, such as with the Ploughshare tortoises . . . Newbery medalist Kwame Alexander adds his poetic words in haiku, full or partial, beginning with this huge call to action. “chorus of creatures singing our names see what we can save—together” More than 100 animals are photographed close-up. They are not to be missed. Kids will love looking at the pictures for hours. Animal Ark released on Valentine’s Day, a date very fitting since it will take big hearts willing to care and love to keep these animals and more from extinction. But, without our commitment to righting the wrongs, a Valentine heart will not be enough. Originally reviewed on Kid Lit Reviews. To read the post, see some of the photographs, or comment, go to: http://bit.ly/AnimalArk

  7. 5 out of 5

    Desiree

    Lyrically lush and beautifully crafted book about endangered animals and our ability to be good stewards of the earth we've been given.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Donalyn

    Stunning photograph and lively verse.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Aliza Werner

    The message! The photographs! The poetry!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Bethe

    Brilliant photographs! Haiku by poetry master Kwame Alexander! Love that most, if not all, photos are of babies or youngsters of the species. Be sure to look under the dust jacket at the case cover.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Marianne

    photos and non-traditional haiku. really lovely.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Angie

    Wow. Just ... Wow.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Margie

    Every day a signal is given; a call to action. You may not be aware but you can and need to adjust your perceptions. It might be in the song of a black-capped chickadee, the tracks of a white-tailed deer encased in mud or a footfall crackling leaves and twigs in the underbrush. No matter where humans call home, it is shared by a multitude of beings in the animal kingdom. We should recognize them, realizing without our help their numbers will continue to diminish. Every one lost makes this world, Every day a signal is given; a call to action. You may not be aware but you can and need to adjust your perceptions. It might be in the song of a black-capped chickadee, the tracks of a white-tailed deer encased in mud or a footfall crackling leaves and twigs in the underbrush. No matter where humans call home, it is shared by a multitude of beings in the animal kingdom. We should recognize them, realizing without our help their numbers will continue to diminish. Every one lost makes this world, our planet, less than it was. We are connected to all of them as members of a huge collective family. Animal Ark: Celebrating Our Wild World In Poetry And Pictures (National Geographic, February 14, 2017) photographs by Joel Sartore and words by Kwame Alexander with Mary Rand Hess and Deanna Nikaido is a moving and memorable tribute to our animal companions. It is a collaborative labor of love. My full recommendation: http://librariansquest.blogspot.com/2...

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jo

    "Change can begin with a thought; a conversation; a photograph; a poem." -Kwame Alexander Wow. This book is an incredible collaboration between Joel Sartore, a photographer for National Geographic, and Kwame Alexander, winner of the Newbery Medal for his middle grade novel 'The Crossover.' 'Animal Ark' is a wonderful opportunity to introduce young children to the concepts of conservation and endangered species. The thirty-two photos, a small selection from Sartore's immense Photo Ark project, are "Change can begin with a thought; a conversation; a photograph; a poem." -Kwame Alexander Wow. This book is an incredible collaboration between Joel Sartore, a photographer for National Geographic, and Kwame Alexander, winner of the Newbery Medal for his middle grade novel 'The Crossover.' 'Animal Ark' is a wonderful opportunity to introduce young children to the concepts of conservation and endangered species. The thirty-two photos, a small selection from Sartore's immense Photo Ark project, are accented by Alexander's sparse haikus in the most beautiful way. This is nonfiction for children done right. The photos draw you in and the poetry is thought provoking; the message in both is important: we must respect nature, care for the animals with whom we share this earth, and take action to protect endangered species. In the middle of the book there are two fold out pages that contain another poem. I think it works better to read the book all the way through and then go back to these pages, to preserve the flow of the haikus and to end with this poem's powerful message. My favorite line says: Listen. We are unique. We share a story. A beginning, a middle, and if we are not careful...an end.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    Kwame Alexander's simple but powerful poetry punctuates Joel Sartore's stunning photographs of majestic creatures that seem to be telling us as we turn each page and look them in the eye: "I belong here too. This is a home we share together."

  16. 4 out of 5

    Stacie

    This amazing book shares the importance of taking care of our world for the animals that live in it. It gives our youngest children an introduction the idea that our actions matter and how the amazing creatures that live among us can disappear unless we do something to make sure they can live in a world that protects them. Using a form of Haiku poetry (which I was reminded how much I loved and missed reading) the author describes the amazing qualities of animals next to detailed and vivid photogr This amazing book shares the importance of taking care of our world for the animals that live in it. It gives our youngest children an introduction the idea that our actions matter and how the amazing creatures that live among us can disappear unless we do something to make sure they can live in a world that protects them. Using a form of Haiku poetry (which I was reminded how much I loved and missed reading) the author describes the amazing qualities of animals next to detailed and vivid photography of that animal. With a photographic glossary of all the animals in the book, parents can teach their child the names and learn along with their child. From well-loved animals like pandas, tigers, and butterflies to those lesser known ones that are also near extinction like the Quokka, Common Yabby, and the St. Andrew Beach Mouse. Talking with your child about the location of these animals and why they might be vulnerable to extinction will help them understand the role they can plan in our ecosystem. By describing animals through the creativeness of a Haiku gives each of the pages a unique twist. Some of them are silly, while others will make you pause to soak in the amazing characteristics of these animals. Children and adults won't be able to turn their eyes away from the pages of full-color, stunning photos of animals. This really is a powerful story for toddlers and preschoolers. This book is an excellent way to introduce lyrical prose to young children as well as have a conversation about being kind to our planet and the animals that live in it.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*

    Alexander, Kwame Animal Ark Illustrated by Joel Sartore PICTURE BOOK National Geographic, 2017. $15.99 Content: G. This is a poem about animals and how special they are. Each page has a line from the poem with an attractive photograph of cute and interesting animals. The poem implores the reader to have an interest in protecting and respecting animals in our world. There is a note from the photographer and the poet at the end of the book that explains their love and interest in wild animals and Alexander, Kwame Animal Ark Illustrated by Joel Sartore PICTURE BOOK National Geographic, 2017. $15.99 Content: G. This is a poem about animals and how special they are. Each page has a line from the poem with an attractive photograph of cute and interesting animals. The poem implores the reader to have an interest in protecting and respecting animals in our world. There is a note from the photographer and the poet at the end of the book that explains their love and interest in wild animals and the style of poem used. There are a few pages that open up to a full spread including the last page which gives the names of the animals. There are not any facts about the animals throughout. This book is more about the poem and the idea that animals are important to our world. As cute as the photographs are and the poem has a great rhythm, the book seemed to be lacking the kind of real information National Geographic usual provides. EL (K-3) – OPTIONAL. Reviewer, C. Peterson. https://kissthebook.blogspot.com/2017...

  18. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    I stumbled across a list of picture books for children revolving around the topics of wildlife, the environment, and conservation, and each book has been more beautiful than the last. These stunning photographs are the work of Joel Sartore, the creator and visionary behind National Geographic's Photo Ark; the haiku are the work of acclaimed children's and YA author Kwame Alexander. The book reminds us to protect the vulnerable species that are a living, breathing part of our ecology. Sartore tal I stumbled across a list of picture books for children revolving around the topics of wildlife, the environment, and conservation, and each book has been more beautiful than the last. These stunning photographs are the work of Joel Sartore, the creator and visionary behind National Geographic's Photo Ark; the haiku are the work of acclaimed children's and YA author Kwame Alexander. The book reminds us to protect the vulnerable species that are a living, breathing part of our ecology. Sartore talks about his environmental heroes in his photographer's note - teachers, private breeders, wildlife rehabilitators - but he is clearly one as well with this inspirational book. Among my favorite photographs were two from Madagascar - an adorable, cuddly Coquerel's sifaka, and a line of four Ploughshare tortoises of different sizes, all, as Alexander puts it, in their "homes of courage on humble backs." Lovely for children and adults, with a timely message that will resonate.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jane

    Joel Sartore has taken some beautiful photos of animals around the world and collected them into this picture book. Many of the photos are on a black background which really makes them POP! Kwame Alexander has written poetic lines corresponding to each of the photos. I think that children, young and old, will enjoy the pictures in this book. Some of the poetry is easy to understand, but when I think about my kids that often say “It doesn’t make sense” I think they will say that about some of the Joel Sartore has taken some beautiful photos of animals around the world and collected them into this picture book. Many of the photos are on a black background which really makes them POP! Kwame Alexander has written poetic lines corresponding to each of the photos. I think that children, young and old, will enjoy the pictures in this book. Some of the poetry is easy to understand, but when I think about my kids that often say “It doesn’t make sense” I think they will say that about some of the pages in this book. The book closes with a note from the photographer about why he collected the photos. The end of the book also includes a note from the author and a description of Haiku. Animal Ark could find a tie-in to Poetry Month or poetry units. It could be a starting point for students writing their own Haiku. Animal Ark is on this year’s Land of Enchantment list so I will be adding it to my collection.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Bruce

    “The National Geographic Photo Ark is a multiyear effort with photographer Joel Sartore to photograph every captive species to inspire people to save those most vulnerable, while also funding conservation projects focused on those in most critical need of protection.” This visually stunning selection of photos from his collection are accompanied by haiku written by poet Kwame Alexander. It’s designed to mesmerize young children with the wonders of wildlife. It also includes endnotes on the front “The National Geographic Photo Ark is a multiyear effort with photographer Joel Sartore to photograph every captive species to inspire people to save those most vulnerable, while also funding conservation projects focused on those in most critical need of protection.” This visually stunning selection of photos from his collection are accompanied by haiku written by poet Kwame Alexander. It’s designed to mesmerize young children with the wonders of wildlife. It also includes endnotes on the front and back gatefolds that provide for older readers the status of each species depicted their status in the wild according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) scale from Critically Endangered (radiated tortoise) through Endangered (black-footed ferret), Vulnerable (Indian rhinoceros) , Near Threatened (jaguar) to Least Concerned (American Alligator).

  21. 4 out of 5

    Tima

    Sweet poetry about the wild animals that inhabit our planet is paired with amazing photography to make a one of a kind book. Each page is full color photography with the celebratory poem woven throughout the book. The poem and pictures are a wonderful way of showing the children what the world around them is like and why it's so important to help protect it. I love this book. It is so awesome that I had to donate a copy to my local school as well. My children (8 and 10 yrs old) initially thought Sweet poetry about the wild animals that inhabit our planet is paired with amazing photography to make a one of a kind book. Each page is full color photography with the celebratory poem woven throughout the book. The poem and pictures are a wonderful way of showing the children what the world around them is like and why it's so important to help protect it. I love this book. It is so awesome that I had to donate a copy to my local school as well. My children (8 and 10 yrs old) initially thought it was a "baby" book, but I found them reading it several times and commenting on the pictures. This is definitely a book that you'll be proud to add to your library. I received a copy of this book from Goodreads. All thoughts expressed are my own.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jenny Mock

    Animal Ark is a wonderful, high quality book filled with stunning photographs taken by Joel Sartore of animals from all over the world. Numerous photographs are paired with haikus written by the talented Kwame Alexander. It's so easy to linger on just one page because you want to take it all in - the uniqueness of the animal and the emotions and imagery of the haiku. Animal Ark is going to be a favorite in my library and the classroom.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Nikki

    Fantastic photographs and beautifully, sparse text by Kwame Alexander make this an essential book for a K-2 library. This would be a great read aloud, but would also be a great book for kids to come back to, because of the diversity of animals presented and the additional information at the end of the book. Personally, I am obsessed/terrified of the oblong-winged katydids, and feel like they might be showing up in some future nightmares...

  24. 4 out of 5

    Heidi-Marie

    Reading for 2017 Beehive Poetry long list. The photographs are amazing. I think kids will really like that. Even the simple poem that connects them is very digestible and enjoyable. But the layout of this book--the foldout in the middle that has nothing to do with the poem? So disjointed. Very unpleasant. And I couldn't help feeling a slight didactic tone here and there. Interesting though. I think kids will like though the books in libraries will get destroyed.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    Animal Ark is a wonderful book of short poems where the words jump out at you, they curve with the pictures and change colors, just like the animals in the book. In many ways, it is also a book that advocates conservation for animals that are on the brink of extinction. Alexander takes several pages that extend out to discuss, in poems, about the endangered species photographed in the book. This book is a great one to add to any collection in any elementary or middle school library.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    Beautiful book. The photographs are just breathtaking and the poetic writing is absolutely wonderful. It goes hand in hand very well. I learned a lot of new animals I didn't even know existed such as the Blue Waxbills birds and the Oblong-winged Katydids which look like colorful grasshoppers. I love the black and white backgrounds and the extreme close up and detail of each animal. Absolutely beautiful.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Sandy

    The pictures are stunning. In my opinion, the poems were too detailed and too disjointed for this to have become a favorite book. My kids enjoyed the book and loved interacting with the pictures and guessing which kind of animal it was, etc. But, after a while, I gave up trying to speak over them to read the words and just allowed them to experience the book in the way that worked for them.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Great Books

    Newbery medal-winning author Kwame Alexander and National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore combine their amazing talents in creating this gorgeous collection of endangered animal portraits and poetry. The touchable detail and brilliant color of the close up photos will enchant young readers, while the gentle haiku verse emphasizes humans' connectedness to life on Earth. Reviewer 28

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sandy Brehl

    Breathtaking, truly stunning photography is no surprise when it is produced by National Geographic. The angles, perspectives, lighting, fold-outs, and EYES of these gorgeous creatures will make it a favorite across ages and interests. Kwame Alexander's use of free form Haiku works well to provide minimal but superbly selected words, as sharply hypnotic as the images.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Suebee

    I was not expecting a poetry book of such high quality, and then when I recognized the author's name, I understood. The photography is out of this world, and paired with Kwame Alexander's brief descriptive text, it's a knockout of a children's poetry book. My boys and I pored over the pictures with notations like (CR) (critically endangered) or (EW) (extinct in the wild). So much to discuss here.

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