The Beauty of the Beast: Poems From the Animal Kingdom

Common Sense Media says

One of the best collections of poetry ever.





What parents need to know

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Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this is one of the best poetry and art collections available for children.

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What's the story?

This stunning volume of poems about animals, accompanied by a profusion of tiny watercolor paintings, is one of the best collections ever. Both poems and art are intelligent yet simple and may inspire children to try some writing and painting of their own. Jack Prelutsky has selected more than 200 poems from over a hundred twentieth-century poets. All the poems are about animals, arranged by classification: insects, sea life, reptiles, birds, and mammals. Each section begins with a haiku by Prelutsky.

Some of the poets, such as Eve Merriam, Robert Frost, and Randall Jarrell, are familiar, while many others are less well known. All the poems are brief and accessible, though not necessarily created for children, and they run the gamut from whimsical and charming to thoughtful and poignant. The poems are surrounded by a profusion of simple watercolor paintings showing the creatures and impressions of their habitats. Includes title and author indexes.

Is it any good?


This marvelous collection is a boon to any teacher or parent wanting to introduce children to poetry. The poems and pictures are perfectly matched; both are lovely in their simplicity, and appeal to a wide range of ages and interests. The wealth of sounds, images, and ideas ensure that kids find something new and fascinating in repeated readings. This is a book not to be read through from beginning to end, but to be savored poem by poem.

Jack Prelutsky's wide reading and his respect for children are evident here; the selections are intelligent and perfect for children. There are no cutesy poems, none that condescend, and few chestnuts. A wealth of simple, impressionistic watercolors surround the poems. Children may be inspired to make their own watercolor pictures after looking at Meilo So's creations.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the different poems. Which ones do you enjoy the most? What's appealing about them? Parents can help kids compare and contrast rhythm and imagery. Children may want to paint their own images of animals.

Book details

Author:Jack Prelutsky
Illustrator:Meilo So
Book type:Non-Fiction
Publisher:Hyperion Books for Children
Publication date:January 1, 1997
Number of pages:98
Publisher's recommended age(s):9 - 12

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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