Animal Sense

by Diane Ackerman, Illustrations by Peter Sis

Knopf, February, 2003.
Hardcover, 48 pages.
ISBN: 0375823840
Ages 8-12

Animal Sense by Diane Ackerman Organized according to the five senses that we share with the animal kingdom, Diane Ackerman's Animal Sense connects the reader to these varied creatures -- not only through the medium of poetry, but with understanding . The sense that is most highly developed in each animal is used to instruct us about that animal's special abilities so that while we enjoy the language of poetry, we also learn things about each animal that we did not know to before. Therefore, each separate poem is not only a bouquet of the treasures that poetry bestows on us, Ms. Ackerman leaves the reader with new factual knowledge of each animal.

The animals that are chosen vary from the lowly housefly to the fast and graceful impala. One may never have thought of the owl as a pair of binoculars with wings or of a cow truly enjoying her steady diet of grass because she has three times as many taste buds as the reader. Each poem leaves the reader with a deeper knowledge of a creature that may have seemed unremarkable before.

Animal Sense is deftly illustrated by Peter Sis so that each drawing evokes the animal as it relates to the poem that follows. His light and witty touch in the drawings evokes the creature without overpowering the poem. Five collectable postcards that link a drawing of one of the animals to each of the senses are also available for a limited time.

Animal Sense would be just the book to read to a child or a class of children before going on a field trip to the zoo or on a nature hike. One also wonders if a sensitive children's zoo might not consider including animal poems on a sign next to the more scientific description that usually appears on the cages. The poems would also be a delight for an adult enjoying a lazy afternoon sitting in a garden. It is a book that will not only add enjoyment and understanding to a child's or adult's understanding of the panorama of biology but will mix poetry into everyday life, which is exactly where it ought to be.

--Sarah Reaves White

Animal Sense is available for purchase on

Note: We may receive a commission from sales made through product links in this article.

This review was published in the June-July, 2003 of The Internet Writing Journal.

Copyright © Writers Write, Inc. All Rights Reserved.