Book Reviews: Poetry in Spanish and Science

Since April is National Poetry Month, what better time to revel in the beauty and wonder of the art form. “Poetry is a child’s lifelong friend,” we are reminded in a new collection called Mama Goose: A Latino Nursery Treasury (Hyperion, $19.99; ages 1 to 5). Distinguished authors Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy have taken years to compile a deluxe, delicious volume in which “words get together to play” (las palabras se reunen para jugar). Enough to last all year round, here are 120 pages of folklore – lullabies, sayings, games and rhymes for all occasions. A rich brew of oral tradition in Spanish – now the third most widely spoken language in the world – with English translations alongside, makes for twice the wordplay for children who love language. Maribel Suarez adds the sprightly illustrations.

For those who consider reproductive science to be a kind of poetry, find out Where Willy Went (Knopf, $15.95; ages 4 to 8). Everything you need to know is in the subtitle: “The Big Story of a Little Sperm!” Our hero Willy lives “at the same address” as 300 million other sperm, isn’t good at math, but excels at swimming. Not without difficulty, he gets to show his stuff on the day of the great Swimming Race, otherwise known as the story of how Mr. and Mrs. Browne have their baby (a girl named Edna). In droll text and hilarious illustration, Nicholas Allan provides a great service by bringing an unusual whimsy to the “facts of life” discussion for even the youngest of information-seekers.

Kathleen Krull