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Nest, Nook & Cranny
Nest, Nook & Cranny
By author: Susan Blackaby   Illustrated by: Jamie Hogan
Product Code: 
Binding Information: Hardback 
9  - 12
In Stock
Price: $15.95
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What's your habitat?

From tongue-in-cheek sonnets to lyrical free verse, this collection of poems explores the many kinds of homes animals make for themselves. Readers experience different habitats--desert, grasslands, shoreline, wetland, and woodland--and the animals that call them home.

Jamie Hogan's expressive line art complements this clever anthology. Back matter provides more information on the highlighted habitats, poetic forms, and the writing process.

This book is good for your brain because:
Poetry, Animal behavior, Ecosystems, Habitats, Figurative Language

Download the cover image!

Click here to read an interview with Susan and Jamie, author and illustrator of Nest, Nook & Cranny.

If you like this book, you'll love these:

  • Hey There, Stink Bug!
  • Many Biomes, One Earth
  • Ocean Soup: A Book of Tide Pool Poems
  • Bubble Homes and Fish Farts

  • Awards
  • Lion and the Unicorn Award for Excellence in North American Poetry
  • New York Public Library's 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing

  • Reviews
      Booklist - February 1, 2010
    This lively poetry collection pairs verse about animals with black-and-white drawings of creatures in their natural habitats. From sea to desert to wetland and forest, the various settings, accompanied by notes on nature, will grab young conservationists. The discussion of poetic forms may be too detailed for many grade-school readers, but the poems and informal explanations about cinquains, sonnets, triolets, villanelles, and many more show how taut form can intensify meaning, while the examples of onomatopoeia demonstrate how much fun sounds can be to read aloud: "Ducks Quack! Quack! are careful when they choose / A marshy place Quack! Quack! to raise their broods." Teachers will welcome the extensive final notes on animal habitats and poetic forms for science and creative-writing classes.
      School Library Journal - March 1, 2010
    Blackaby's descriptive untitled poems about mammals, insects, and birds are arranged in sections by habitat--desert, grassland, shoreline, wetland, woodland--in sketchbook format, along with accomplished realistic charcoal pencil drawings on textured paper. Each short section of three to six poems begins with a two-page drawing of the habitat. The clever, informative rhymes include carefully researched details about animal behavior--creatures that carry their homes; what otters and herons eat; the habits of ducks; hiding places for bugs. There is a brief descriptive paragraph on each of the five habitats. A poem-by-poem discussion of how appropriate poetic form and devices were chosen for each piece provides valuable coaching and inspiration for students to try their own hand at creating verse. This is a special book that teachers will find useful and nature lovers will treasure.
      We Love Children's Books - April 1, 2010

    This one's only peripherally about birds, really. It's focus is animals and their habitats. The chapter headings -- Desert, Grassland, Shoreline, Wetland, Woodland -- each have a double page spread illustrating representative animals in the habitat. The untitled poems are a combination of free verse and various forms. Rather than noting the forms on the page where the poem appears they are noted in the back matter in a section titled "Writing Poetry" which also includes useful information about ideas and writing techniques like alliteration. The effective, black &white illustrations, done in mixed media and pastels and charcoal, complement and don't overwhelm the poems. One I like begins "The sweetest home sweet home must be a hive,/Humming with activities of bees. They never wipe their feet when they arrive;/They track their tacky nectar where they please." A gratifying melding of science, art and literature.

      Wrapped in Foil - March 29, 2010
    How do poets like Susan Blackaby do it? In her new book, Nest, Nook and Cranny (illustrated by Jamie Hogan) Blackaby manages to condense an obviously superb understanding of animal behavior and ecology into 22 beautifully-crafted poems, while still injecting humor and word play. What a delight!

    Teachers will absolutely love this book. Not only can you squeeze in science (the book is organized by habitats and the author includes a description of each in the back), but also language arts. Blackaby has added a behind-the-scenes look at each of her poems in her "Writing Poetry" section. No need to guess whether or not she intended the poem about the skink to be a cinquain, she tells you that it is, and explains the form. This section will be especially helpful to budding poets because they can go to the poems and see concrete examples of different types of poetry, from sonnets to triolet.

    You might think that this revealing of craft could make the poems seem artificial or stiff, but they hang together wonderfully as a coherent package. And describing hanging bats as "fur bangles," you just have to laugh.

    The charcoal and pastel illustrations give the feel of a nature journal, with just the right touch of sophistication added by use of occasional silhouettes.

    My favorite part of reading this book to my son was when we reached the poem about the duck on page 24, he spontaneously decided to read the quacks in counterpoint to my reading the text. It was a special moment.

    If you love poetry and nature, this book is a sure winner.
      Muddy Puddle Musings - March 26, 2010

    All I had to do was open this book and take a peek at the endpapers and I was SOLD. This book is the size of a chapter book though a bit more slender, and it isn't what you expect.

    It's full of poetry. Poetry from five different habitats. Desert. Grassland. Shoreline. Wetland. Woodland. They're beautiful, descriptive, and use incredible words. But there's more -- she ends with telling the reader how she wrote each poem. Whether it be cinquain or sonnet, she discusses her use of onomatopoeia, alliteration, similes, metaphors - and also gives information about some of the subject matter. I love this book.

    Check out the wordplay, metaphors, similes, snazzy verbs and interesting rhyming:

    Otters loll like whiskered boats,

    bobbing gently in the swells.

    Kelp beds help the otters float

    While prying shellfish out of shells.

    Thoughtful otters dot the ocean,

    Head awash with crabby notions.

    What prey, tell, do otters dwell on?

    Anything that has a shell on.


    A household tucked inside a hole

    Or stuck inside a sticky bowl

    Of twisted twigs and mud and stuff

    Holds eggs or cheepy heaps of fluff

    And various pairs of prickly feet,

    Tiny feathers, pointy beaks.

    Although it has a bird's-eye view,

    With central air and skylights, too,

    There's not a lot of room to grow.

    Flighty families come and go.

    As soon as one clan flies away,

    Another mother comes to stay.

    The author's from Portland Oregon, the illustrator's from an "island off the coast of Maine." WHICH ONE????

      Children's Literature - March 26, 2010
    "Otters loll like whiskered boats,/Bobbing gently in the swells." Utilizing similes and many other "figures of speech," Blackby has created an enchanting tool for teaching as well as for pure enjoyment. Here her poetry covers five different habitats (desert, grassland, shoreline, wetland, and woodland) and the creatures that dwell in each particular area. The table of contents reveals these five divisions and also lists "habitats" and "writing poetry." The last two sections are invaluable. The habitats section succinctly defines the environment, flora, and fauna of each specialized environment; while the "writing poetry" section has references to individual poems which explain the poetic form used or gives explanations of how the poem was researched and developed. Teachers will be pleased to have precise explanations of such terms as homophones, sibilance, alliteration, onomatopoeia, consonance, and rhyme schemes. Blackaby employed a variety of poetic forms to support the various themes she presented, including: couplets, triolet, sonnet, unrhymed couplets, villanelle, than-bauk (a Burmese form), and a variety of rhyme schemes. Her explanations of the forms chosen for the different poems will open new channels of writing prowess for those who create their own poetry and those who aspire to do so. Pastel and charcoal pencil line drawings perfectly match the tone of the poems and give support to the information revealed in them as well. The drawing that goes with the heron poem gives life to the lines: "Herons walk with stilted steps/Stalking, cautious, through the marsh..." Every school and public library needs to own this gem.
      Great Kid Books - April 8, 2010

    As a child, I loved spending time noticing things when I was outdoors. Poetry can help us do just that - observe the world around us, in small and intimate details. Susan Blackaby's new collection of poems, Nest, Nook and Cranny, is perfect for reading with your children and talking about what they notice, both in the poems and in nature all around them.

    Blackaby's descriptive poems, paired with realistic charcoal pencil drawings, almost remind me of a naturalist's journal. She has arranged them in sections by habitat - desert, grassland, shoreline, wetland, woodland - so that you feel as if you're spending time in that area....

    Poetry can do more than help us notice the world around us: it can help us notice the words on a page. Susan Blackaby talks about the craft of her poems in the end of the book. While children may not be drawn to this discussion, I found it fascinating to think about how each poem was crafted. Parents and teachers can read this, mull it over, and sprinkle in their observations as they read these poems with children.

    My favorite poem is "Shallow pools in rocky ledges", perhaps because I have always been fascinated by tide pools.

    Shallow pools in rocky ledges,

    Etched by sand and scored by sea,

    Are beachfront homes for stranded creatures:

    Starfish, snails, anemones,

    Twice each day the sea seeps in

    When the changing tide runs high.

    Battered by the salty spray,

    Sodden lodgers cling and sway,

    Waterlogged before the drought,

    Parching when the tide goes out.

    - by Susan Blackaby

    Blackaby's descriptive language brings alive this poem, reminding me of the tide pools I've explored with my children. But I never noticed how she crafted the structure of the poem to reflect life in the tide pool, until I read her explanation in her section "Writing Poetry":

    "For creatures in a tidepool, living conditions - either all wet or mostly dry - follow certain rules, but the transition period from one extreme to the other is marked by instability and chance. This poem follows a similar pattern. It begins at low tide with one rhyme scheme (ab cb), gets interrupted midway through when the tide comes in (an unrhymed couplet to suggest disorder), and ends at high tide with a different rhyme scheme (dd ee)."

    - Susan Blackaby

    If you are looking to share poems about nature, or help children notice more details in the way poems are crafted, this is an excellent collection....

      NC Teacher Stuff - July 12, 2010

    Salmon swim in river homes
    Under bridges, over stones,
    Through cool pools in muted shadows,
    Into sun-drenched, silver shallows

    Nest, Nook & Cranny is a collection of poems that is a teacher's dream. Susan Blackaby combines several different poetic forms (sonnet, cinquain, triolet, villanelle) with animal habitats (desert, grassland, shoreline, wetland, woodland) as the subject of the poems. The reader gets a combination of poetry, figurative language, and science that is entertaining and informative. These twenty-two poems are perfect for a unit on animal habitats. You could use these poems for shared reading each morning in a K-2 class. In a 3-5 class, you have a great lesson on writing in a content area. For a 6-8 class, you can teach poetic forms such as sonnets and show that you can take everyday information (the bluebird house in my yard for example) and create a sonnet or another form of poetry.

    The extra bonus with Nest, Nook & Cranny is that you get over ten pages of terrific back matter where Susan Blackaby explains her thinking in creating each individual poem and the different poetic forms and figurative language that she uses. This book reminds me of Paul Fleischman's Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices with the combination of poetry and animal life. I'll be picking up a copy of Nest, Nook & Cranny to use in classrooms this fall.

      The School Librarian's Workshop - September 23, 2010
    Loosely arranged into five habitats (Desert, Grassland, Shoreline, Wetland, Woodland), the twenty-two untilted poems will appeal to budding nature scientists in grades four to eight. Blackaby's focus is on where these animals make their home whether it's coyotes whose homes rangefrom peak to glen and spend "...restless days in borrowed dens," or a mouse who fits "Into a space behind the wall--/ A teeny, tiny place to crawl." She observes that "A doe will pick a thicket/ As a placeto place her fawn," and a hermit crab is "Tucked inside a tiny cloister/ Once belonging to an oyster."

    Blackaby covers the range of the animal kingdom including snakes who choose out-of-the-way places "Depending on what snaky spaces/ Suit the sort of snakes they are," and bees who "...track their tacky nectar where they please." Jamie Hogan uses pastel and charcoal pencils to illustrate the natural world of the poems. The scientifically-minded will appreciate the brief despcriptions of the habitats at the end, while those of a literary bent will enjoy Blackaby's explanation of the poetic forms she used.

      The Joys of Reading - October 29, 2010
    As a kid I loved being outside. The School Forest and State Park in my hometown are near and dear to my heart. I spent many hours walking through the woods, watching wildlife and nature change all around me through the seasons. That is one of the best parts of growing up in Michigan, easy access to the woods plus we actually have all four seasons (each on is my favorite). And as I grew up my love for nature only increased, thus I went to school to study plants (only to leave a few years later to become a children's librarian and share science with kids through programming). But for me it is amazing how many kids today just don't get out and explore the woods like I did. And I think that is why I loved this little collect of poems about different animals habitats.

    It seems to me that we have forgotten that we share our habitats with animals and always have but there is this mentality that animals are invading our space (oh but wait we like to push them out of their natural habitats because we want a new mall near by). Sorry time to get off the soapbox, but that is just what I felt when I read through these poems.

    I have never really been that good at writing poems, but I love reading them. The design of this book is wonderful. Each habitat is addresses and given its own section and each section has about 3 to 6 poems about the various animals that live there. These poems are informative and the reader learns about animal behavior. Poems are written in free verse, sonnets, and I enjoyed that Blackaby discussed each poem at the end so the reader can learn what technique she used. This is the kind of book that would have been very helpful during a poetry section in school.

    I can't write a review of this book without discussing the beautiful illustrations. For me that add the little extra to this book. Sure it would have still be an good collection of poems but those illustrations by Hogan are the icing on the cake. The bear gazing at the bee hive or the otter lazily swimming along, what can I say I loved this book.

    Plus this would be a great book for parents to share with their kids about the power of observation. Poetry is great at getting at least me to observe my surroundings. This is a perfect mixture of nature and poetry, perfect for nature lovers and poetry lovers alike. So if you couldn't already tell I loved this little book and you can't read it just one time, read it multiple times and gain something new from each reading.

      Library Media Connection - November 1, 2010
    Utilizing a variety of poetic forms, Blackaby explores animals and their habitats. Organized by desert, grassland, shoreline, wetland, and woodland, animals such as spiders, hares, hawks, hermit crabs, otters, herons, and more are included in a book that presents information in a very unique manner. While learning about an array of creatures, readers are introduced to poetry forms spanning cinquains to sonnets. Readers also learn about elements of poetry including alliteration, couplets, and homophones. The author offers an explanation of why she chose to use specific forms of poetry for each animal. Line drawings pair nicely with the book's simple format. This is a poetry book that teachers and students alike will embrace, especially when doing a unit of study about animals and where they live.
    The book has five sections based on habitats and animals that reside within them; Desert, Grassland, Shoreline, Wetland, and Woodland. The poems work better when they are read aloud. The illustrations are made of charcoal, while the lack of colors is disappointing; the quality of the drawings makes up for that fact. Some great aspects about the book include definitions of each of the habitats and a breakdown of each poem and how it was written. This would work great as teaching tool or for leisurely reading.
      SimplyScience - December 1, 2010
    “A doe will pick a thicket/As a place to place her fawn,/Its speckled hide well hidden/In the dappled forest lawn./A bed safe in the shadows—/Mossy cushion, leafy crest—/A doe will pick a thicket/As a place to make a nest.”

    This stunning book of poems has it all. “Poetry, animal behavior, ecosystems, habitats, figurative language,” says the Charlesbridge site. I agree.

    Plus, I’d add mood and voice. And art.

    I read Nest, Nook, & Cranny for the science. Open the book and look at the fabulous endpapers. I was hooked before I’d read a word.

    But it’s so much more than science. The book does an excellent job of fitting each animal within the context of its habitat while using evocative language in a variety of poetry styles. The language within each poem whisks the reader away to that habitat in the imagination.

    The charcoal line drawings fit the mood perfectly and rendered the images in a realistic way that suited each poem and introduces each habitat across the spread with simple lines and shading.

    Any teacher or librarian could enjoy reading this book to students, and it’s a wonderful place to continue either science or poetry activities. Lessons stem naturally from the wealth of carefully researched science information and the back matter, which explains the poetry forms by poem. An introduction tells the reader about the author’s inspiration for the book and she introduces her habitat in Beaverton, Oregon.

    I loved this book and encourage it as a read-aloud. When time is short, as it often is during the school day, there’s not a better way to combine two lovely subjects.

      Yellow Brick Road - December 1, 2010
    This witty collection of poems in a multitude of formats, introduces animals, and their homes and habitats. The anthology includes information on the poetic forms and writing process. It's a marvelous resource for an integrated science/language arts unit as well as a worthwhile book for sheer reading pleasure.
    Susan Blackaby explores a range of animal habitats in a poetry collection comprising everything from Shakespearean sonnets to free verse. The book is grouped by habitat (desert, grassland, shoreline, wetland, woodland), although Blackaby cautions early on that animals such as coyotes and birds do not care a whit for such traditional habitat descriptions and will freely move from one to another.

    The poems, which are by turns witty and whimsical, succinctly capture the essence of an animal. For instance, the poet notes that tortoises and snails, which carry their homes on their backs can be visited any time, because “there’s always someone home.” A poem describing a spider successfully luring prey into its web delivers this tiny jolt at the end: “He sticks around ‘til dinnertime. (She never eats alone)”.

    The poems serve to inform as well as amuse --- for instance, we learn in “Hare” that these animals are solitary and prefer to live in simple, bowl-shaped nests - unlike the more social rabbits, which prefer burrows or warrens (“A warren is a riot – Hares require quiet”).

    Jamie Hogan’s numerous and gorgeous charcoal pencil drawings, including the two-page spreads that introduce each habitat, give Nest, Nook, and Cranny the appearance of a beloved field journal - indeed, this would make a good book to take along on a nature hike.

    At the end of the book, Blackaby introduces students to the basic elements of poetic forms and devices and explains how she selected the appropriate poetic form for each of the poems. This is a terrific book for naturalists and poets of all ages.