NPM 2020 Day 26: Four Otters Toboggan

Perhaps today’s book will surprise you as much as it did me.

4 Otters COVER“Four Otters Toboggan” might not necessarily be considered a poem, but it SHOULD be!  Vivian Kirkfield’s word choice stunned me repeatedly as I read this “counting” book and I knew I had to highlight it here this month.  She does what every poet does by making every single word count, but she does so with exquisite beauty.  Here fish are ballerinas, otters are tobagganists, and branches are mazes.

This isn’t just a simple counting book.  It IS a poem!  And if the words weren’t enough to carry the book, the art work by Mirka Hokkanen is stunning.  If it were hand drawn like this, it would still be stunning.  But Mirka went above and beyond to create wood engravings for every page.  Do you know how HARD they are to make?  And to make them this beautiful?!  This book is a work of art that I don’t think has been appreciated quite enough.  I’ve read it several times and every time, I find something new to marvel over.

Yet the page I will share today is the page I come back to time and time again.  It is both an image that stuns me (talk about atmospheric settings!) and words that leave my mouth watering (and wishing I had written something THIS beautiful!).


Black clouds “unleash their fury” and the river is “peppered by rain.”  The birds scold “the errant sun.”  God help me, but I love that!  Those are exactly the right words to describe everything going on here.  And look at that dark sky!  Not to mention, if you’re counting those 7 birds, you’ve got to work to find them.

If you haven’t read this book yet, track it down.  I bought a copy and I haven’t regretted it even once.  I’ve even used it multiple times as a teaching tool.  Beautiful!

And if you’re looking for more poetry fun this month, be sure to check out the Kidlitosphere Event Roundup!

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