Florian, Douglas. 2007. Comets, stars, the Moon, and Mars: space poems and paintings. Orlando: Harcourt. ISBN: 9780152053727.
Florian introduces the poetry book by engaging the reader and introducing them to 'skywatching'. The poet uses a simple rhyming technique paired with equal syllable counts on some of the poems. This creates a fun rhythm. Others have every other line rhyme. Florian also repeats some lines repeatedly throughout a poem to reinstate a message. For instance: "Pluto was a planet" is repeated several times teaching the child its history.
Another quality of Florian is his imagery of sight. He uses descriptive words and stanza techniques. For a poem about galaxies, the poet used the stanza in the shape of a swirl. This illustrates a quality of spiral galaxies that will create imagery for the child. In addition, the illustrations show different shaped galaxies for the reader to see. Since the topic of this poetry books is astronomy, Florian uses both his poetry and illustrations to show a detailed image.
Florian also uses exciting words that children will want to repeat. These include "girth", "bumblebee", "galore", "nimble", "gigantic", and "Jupiterrific". Star names are also used like "Sirius", "Canopus", "Alpha Centauri", and "Arcturus". By using these words, Florian creates a sense imagery of sound. Listeners will want to repeat the words.
Each page displays a theme within the universe such as stars, planets, etc. For the poem entitled "the sun" the illustrations display various names for sun. Examples of these are "zun", "sol", "sonne", "soare" and others. These are subtle but added details to the poems. Another added feature are circle cutouts within the pages to show planets and add depth. These enhance the poem as well and are creative touches to the book.
Ice, rock, dirt,
Metal and gas-
Around the sun
A comet may pass.
A dirty snowball
Of space debris.
The biggest snowball
That you'll ever see.
Introducing the Poem:
First, this poem is a great introductory lesson on comets. With the poem above, there is an illustrative background that details the parts of a comet (nucleus, coma, tail).
With the illustrations this poem also has a mixture of rhythm and rhyme. The first line of the poem starts slowly while towards the end the poem speeds faster. Like other poems in this book, "the comet" explains a wondrous concept to children.
I would introduce this poem before or after science class or science-related activities. This would be a great opportunity to get the children excited and curious about astronomy and science. Also, introducing this poem before or after a meteor shower would be fun. It would get the children excited about astronomy or meteor showers that they could view while at home.
Other poems in Comets, stars, the Moon and Mars could be introduced as well. When Venus, Mars, or Saturn become visible in the night time sky, these poems would be great to read to children. Florian uses different astronomy concepts that are vague and mysterious to most people. His poetry helps to teach students these science wonders.