Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the NightDark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night by Joyce Sidman

Each look reveals new, fabulous details: the dusk and dawn double-page spreads that begin and end the book. The eft, a newt-like creature, that stars in his own poem (“Come all you young efts,/ so brave and so bold”) but creeps onto each page, even the verso. The fact that the illustrations are made by the process of relief printing – “there are definitely faster methods of making a picture, but few more enjoyable in a backwards sort of way.” The richness of the poems – a compelling combination of ordinary and grand, from the “perched missile” of the great horned owl to “the tiny hiccup/ of my heart” described by the fleeing mouse. The way information – both necessary and fun – has been condensed for the unobstrusive sidebars, tucked next to the illustrations in a smaller print than the poems.

Source: my public library

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PS – Dark Emperor took the gold in the Oakland Public Library’s Mock Newbery, and I totally would have voted for it if it had been on the OLA/WLA list. ┬áSidman’s other book this year, Ubiquitous, has been getting some love on “best of the year” lists, but so far I’ve only seen Dark Emperor on the Horn Book’s Fanfare list – I hope it gets more love come awards time.

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