May 10, 2019

PREDATOR and PREY: A Conversation in Verse

Candlewick Studio, 2019
This new picture book, PREDATOR and PREY: A Conversation in Verse, explores pairs (and groups) of animals "locked in a battle for survival". 
Predators need to eat. 
Prey need to avoid being eaten. 
This never-ending fight is depicted in verse and informational text by author Susannah Buhrman-Deever. 
The author introduces the topic in an introductory verse that describes the "tricks" prey and predator might use, many of which are a sort of conversation: using voices, listening in on others, even "talking" to each other. The ultimate goal, of course, is to survive and raise the next generation. Successfully raising young is necessary for species survival.  Babies must be fed and protected. This reality drives both predators and prey to never stop trying.

Each spread is gorgeous, and  includes an inset text box presenting factual information about both predator and prey. Their specific interplay and the possible outcomes of their encounters is described simply and clearly, with enough detail to spark imaginations. 
These passages are accessible science that allow readers to visualize the various battles as  action videos. On each page one or more poems adopts the voices of the animals pictured. The inset text combines with the images to enhance the meaning of the poems.This approach with parallel text provides excellent content to explore writing craft: voice, figurative language, sequential narration, cause/effect, and poetic forms, including reverso poems and poems for two voices.
Illustrator Bert Kitchen  has produced natural, representational full page scenes that appear, at first glance, to be photographs. Some of the double spreads are designed with half-page foldouts, providing nearly panoramic habitat scenes that are as informative as the 
the informational text. The oversized, square trim format results in double page spreads (some with extra wide fold-outs) that are perfect for sharing. 
The animals depicted represent global locations and species, with accurate names provided in every case. The bibliography includes primarily adult scientific resources, which allows authentication of science, but does not offer options for young readers whose curiosity will surely be sparked by these animals. I believe this would have been improved with a page or two of kid-friendly back matter such as poetry form notes, a food-chain diagram, and a few titles or links for kids. Despite that, I'm eagerly recommending this impressive and inspiring new book.

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