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14:14 PB ELEMENTS – Mammoths on the Move – RHYME

February 17, 2015

My picture book today was a great title in anticipation of our first possible potential of a snow sprinkle in southeast Arkansas (tomorrow night). Probably, we’ll have just a smidgen of ice. But this is a curl-up-in-a-thick-blanket book in more ways than one.

Mammoths on the Move 1Mammoths on the Move, by Lisa Wheeler
illustrated by Kurt Cyrus
(c) 2006, Harcourt

(472 words, AR Reading Level 3.9)

Mammoths on the Move makes excellent use of poetic form and the element of RHYME in relating factual details that support a focus on migration, a vital aspect of woolly mammoth life.

What kid (or grown-up-old guy like me) isn’t entranced, first of all, by these majestic creatures.  Lisa Wheeler took her enchantment and put it in methodical, carefully metered verse to produce a perfect rhyming story.  With quatrains that weave amazing facts about mammoth life and culture around the aspect of migration, she embeds us with the herd as it moves to warmer grounds.

Kurt Cyrus provides illustrations that bring us up close and personal. In the first spread we stand beneath a mountain of wool, near lumbering trunk-like legs, to read:

“Fourteen thousand years ago
the north was mostly ice and snow.
But wooly mammoths didn’t care–
these beasts had comfy coats of hair.”

The use of rhyme sets up a sense of deliberation, a determination that mimics the steady intent and force and purpose of the mammoths in their migration.

I love Lisa’s varied refrains, which appear after either one or two stanzas throughout the journey.

“Fuzzy, shaggy, / snarly, snaggly, / wonderful / woolly mammoth.”
“Grinding, gnawing, / chewing, chawing, / wise and woolly mammoth.”

Mammoths on the Move 2The refrains are used to emphasize facts related in the quatrains. Both rhyme, which occurs internally and in an AABB pattern in the quatrains, and poetic form are used effectively.  The sense of structure, the meter of “left-foot, right-foot, left-foot, right-foot,” supports the long and steady walk of the herd to their destination, with their rests and pauses emphasized by the refrains.

A read-aloud for sure. And as you read it, deepen your voice, add some grunts between stanzas, and warm up to the wonder of a child beside you eyes-wide open in awe at these marvelous beasts.

Share, if you will, how you’ve seen rhyme used well in some of your favorite non-fiction books.

(See a list of other reviewers posts in Christi’s latest post at Write Wild.)






9 Comments leave one →
  1. February 17, 2015 9:31 am

    Those rhymes sound so much fun without making the story sound condescending at all. And I like what you said about the format setting a sense of purpose in their migration. I’ve also got a soft spot for prehistoric megafauna… I’ll have to check it out!

    • February 17, 2015 11:20 am

      I was stricken by that aspect too Laura…as well as the richness of the illustrations. Loved this book.

  2. Christie Wright Wild permalink
    February 17, 2015 4:00 pm

    I was bummed to find out that this book is no longer in print. WHAT?!?! It should be… I also agree with the rhyming METER mimicking the migration. Very cool. I have a PB in which I also let the rhyme mimic the topic/events. I LOVE her refrain (and her books). Thanks so much for sharing it with us.

    • February 17, 2015 9:28 pm

      Didn’t realize it was out of print, but you can at least get a library copy.

    • February 23, 2015 9:52 am

      Christie, Mammoths on the Move is still very much in print, according to my statements from the publisher (I’m the illustrator). It was an ALA Notable book, which seems to have given it extra legs. If your local bookstore can’t order it for whatever reason, contact me through my website. Thanks– K Cyrus

  3. February 17, 2015 4:22 pm

    Sounds like a lot of fun!

  4. February 17, 2015 7:32 pm

    I love Lisa Wheeler books and this one sounds like another winner.

  5. February 17, 2015 9:29 pm

    Enjoy your snow sprinkle tomorrow… good thing you stocked up on books!

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