Review by KRISTIN WALD
A PLACE TO START A FAMILY, by David Harrison, is a collection of 12 poems about animals and the homes they build. Separated into sections for builders underground, on land, in water, and in air, the poems focus on the materials and techniques each animal uses to create a cozy, safe space for their young. The beautiful and lifelike illustrations by Giles Laroche are a mixture of collage, painting and more. Families will notice new details each time they read the book.
While the poems alternate between first and third person, each shares a positive and admiring perspective of the subject’s talents. The termites, for example, “keep a tidy nest” and “no one builds a better fortress” than they do. The yellow garden spider is described as “crafting in the dark” and possess an “ancient weaver’s skill.” A favorite in our house was the star-nosed mole whose “secret tunnels sometimes lead outside, sometimes beneath a ledge or limb, sometimes I even have to swim.” The poems are short enough to read several times, but rich in detail for creating discussion and prompting questions, especially together with the illustrations.
Anticipating wide-ranging questions from readers, additional information for each animal is provided at the end, including suggestions for further reading. The final page even is a bonus section entitled “A Different Kind of Builder,” which includes a poem and information about the sun coral.
A PLACE TO START A FAMILY is recommended for ages 5-9, but children slightly younger and older will find much to enjoy.
I received a review copy from the publisher.