Sidman, Joyce. 2010. Dark emperor & other poems of the night. Boston [Mass.]: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children. ISBN# 9780547152288.
Sidman explains the creatures that come out during the night in this poetry book. Dark Emperor is a great book for children that are able to learn about animals that they usually don’t see. The poems in this book teach children all the nocturnal happenings in the woods. Some of which children might be afraid of.
These topics include raccoons, snails, moths, rats, spiders, porcupines, crickets, mushrooms, bats, and other nightly creatures. In addition to the poems about these topics, Sidman includes a section next to the illustration of each poem detailing information about each creature. This added information gives children even more understanding of the animal or plant.
One of the poetic techniques that Sidman uses is repetition of certain words and lines. She also uses alliteration and consonance with her poetry. Sidman also is creative with the white space of a poem by shaping the words into the figure of an animal.
Dark Emperor beautifully illustrates rather ugly creatures of the night. One of this poetry book’s advantages is that you are able to read poems about such creepy characters in a peaceful way. For instance, “Snail at Moonrise” is described as “gleaming silver-bright”.
Poem: “Bat Wraps Up”
he drops down
from the echoing room of night.
One last swift swoop,
one last bug plucked from air
with cupped tail,
scooped neatly to mouth.
As dark grows thin
and body heavy,
he tumbles to tree
and grasps bark,
folds that swirl of cape
tipped with tiny claws
and snags the spot
that smells like home.
stretch, hang, relax.
Introducing the Poem:
I would introduce this poetry book before a science lesson. First, I would read the poem quietly and slowly. Towards the end of the poem, I would read the last stanza a little quicker with a faster rhythm. This gives it a little more sizzle and spark.
After reading the poem, I would ask the children what they thought about bats. This would raised questions about them being nocturnal and sleeping upside down, etc. This is a great segway to a science lesson.
Another great way to introduce this poem is right before a school field trip! In houston, there is a bridge where bats live under. Every few weeks out of the year at dusk thousand of bats fly out all at the same time. It is really neat to see. This would be beneficial to show the children because they the bats are just then waking up for their day.
I would also read to the students the extra side paragraph that explains the basic information of bats from "Bat Wraps Up" in Dark Emperor. By showing the children actual bats, they will better understand their nature. Introducing the poem this way can inspire the children to want to read more poetry. It could also lead them to want to learn more about science.