Reviews for World Of Wonders

by Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Nezhukumatathil (Oceanic) applies her skill as a poet to a scintillating series of short essays on nature. She takes up topics that fascinate her—the bizarre-looking potoo birds of Central and South America; corpse flowers, with their rich colors and acrid odor—and connects them to her own experience of the world. She’ll begin with a study of dancing flamingos, only to pivot to memories of going to dance clubs as a young woman, and end with an exhortation for everyone to “keep in step with our small dances on this earth.” Elsewhere, she considers the vampire squid and its prodigious aptitude for concealment, then intently examines her own so-called lonely “cephalopod” year at a new high school. A memory of being laughed at by bonnet macaque monkeys serves as a reminder to laugh at herself. Throughout, she vividly describes sounds, smells, and color—the myriad hues of a “sea of saris” from India—and folds in touches of poetry. Fumi Nakamura’s lush illustrations add to the book’s appeal. Readers of Terry Tempest Williams and Annie Dillard will appreciate Nezhukumatathil’s lyrical look at nature. Christopher Rhodes, Stuart Agency. (Aug.)


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

This collection of essays contemplating the wonders of nature is fresh and engaging, and offers frequent surprises and perceptive commentary. Author Nezhukumatathil has previously published volumes of poetry, and now her prose flows effortlessly, with precise vocabulary that evokes clear images and captures insightful nuance. She weaves childhood memories and anecdotes about her current life as a poet, college professor, wife, and mother into her rapturous takes on flora and fauna. In just one essay she folds in the ecstatic courting dance of a bird of paradise, the profusion of vivid saris at her wedding, also encompassing an inept DJ, the Macarena, and a New York dance floor flooded with guests from India and Kansas. Another essay celebrates the axolotl, an amazing salamander that always appears to be smiling. She recommends adopting that same expression when "a white girl tries to tell you what you can and cannot wear for make-up." Nezhukumatathil's essays, with vibrant illustrations from Fumi Mini Nakamura, are in turn humorous, poignant, relatable, passionate (especially when she's bemoaning disappearing species and habitats), and always interesting.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

This collection of essays contemplating the wonders of nature is fresh and engaging, and offers frequent surprises and perceptive commentary. Author Nezhukumatathil has previously published volumes of poetry, and now her prose flows effortlessly, with precise vocabulary that evokes clear images and captures insightful nuance. She weaves childhood memories and anecdotes about her current life as a poet, college professor, wife, and mother into her rapturous takes on flora and fauna. In just one essay she folds in the ecstatic courting dance of a bird of paradise, the profusion of vivid saris at her wedding, also encompassing an inept DJ, the Macarena, and a New York dance floor flooded with guests from India and Kansas. Another essay celebrates the axolotl, an amazing salamander that always appears to be smiling. She recommends adopting that same expression when "a white girl tries to tell you what you can and cannot wear for make-up." Nezhukumatathil's essays, with vibrant illustrations from Fumi Mini Nakamura, are in turn humorous, poignant, relatable, passionate (especially when she's bemoaning disappearing species and habitats), and always interesting.


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

A poet celebrates the wonders of nature in a collection of essays that could almost serve as a coming-of-age memoir. The daughter of an Indian father and Filipino mother, Nezhukumatathil was often the only brown face in her classrooms, and she sought lessons from nature on how to adapt, protect herself, and conform or fit in but still be able to stand strong on her own. She shares those lessons throughout these frequently enchanting essays. Take the axolotl, from whom the author learned the “salamander smile”: “If a white girl tries to tell you what your brown skin can and cannot wear for makeup, just remember the smile of an axolotl. The best thing to do in that moment is to just smile and smile, even if your smile is thin. The tighter your smile, the tougher you become.” Nezhukumatathil’s investigations, enhanced by Nakamura’s vividly rendered full-color illustrations, range across the world, from a rapturous rendering of monsoon season in her father’s native India to her formative years in Iowa, Kansas, and Arizona, where she learned from the native flora and fauna that it was common to be different. The corpse flower guided the author when she met her future husband, helping her to “clear out the sleaze, the unsavory, the unpleasant—the weeds—of the dating world” and “find a man who’d be happy when I bloomed.” Nezhukumatathil isn’t only interested in nature as metaphor. She once devoted most of a year’s sabbatical to the study of whale sharks, and she humanizes her experience of natural splendor to the point where observation and memory merge, where she can’t see or smell something without remembering the details of her environment when she first encountered it. Among other fascinating species, the author enlightens readers on the vampire squid, the bonnet macaque, and the red-spotted newt. The writing dazzles with the marvel of being fully alive. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Award-winning poet Nezhukumatathil (English, Univ. of Mississippi; Oceanic) intertwines snapshots of memoir with a fascinating look at various animals and plants in this account weaving memories of growing up feeling like an outsider, a brown girl in an overwhelmingly white world, with facts about the flora and fauna that are important touchstones for her. She shares reminiscences about her family, her work, and the importance of the natural world in her life. Racism follows her from childhood, including an instance when a teacher dismisses her drawing of a favorite bird because it's not an American species. Throughout, she describes how she turned to nature in times of need, finding both comfort and solace. Elegant illustrations by Nakamura enhance the text. VERDICT A lyrical exploration of a woman finding her true home in the world, interspersed with hauntingly beautiful descriptions of the lives of the animals and plants that illuminate it, this natural history will appeal to nature lovers and readers who relish thoughtful, introspective works. Also suggest to fans of Margaret Renkl's Late Migrations.—Sue O'Brien, Downers Grove, IL


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

This collection of essays contemplating the wonders of nature is fresh and engaging, and offers frequent surprises and perceptive commentary. Author Nezhukumatathil has previously published volumes of poetry, and now her prose flows effortlessly, with precise vocabulary that evokes clear images and captures insightful nuance. She weaves childhood memories and anecdotes about her current life as a poet, college professor, wife, and mother into her rapturous takes on flora and fauna. In just one essay she folds in the ecstatic courting dance of a bird of paradise, the profusion of vivid saris at her wedding, also encompassing an inept DJ, the Macarena, and a New York dance floor flooded with guests from India and Kansas. Another essay celebrates the axolotl, an amazing salamander that always appears to be smiling. She recommends adopting that same expression when "a white girl tries to tell you what you can and cannot wear for make-up." Nezhukumatathil's essays, with vibrant illustrations from Fumi Mini Nakamura, are in turn humorous, poignant, relatable, passionate (especially when she's bemoaning disappearing species and habitats), and always interesting.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

This collection of essays contemplating the wonders of nature is fresh and engaging, and offers frequent surprises and perceptive commentary. Author Nezhukumatathil has previously published volumes of poetry, and now her prose flows effortlessly, with precise vocabulary that evokes clear images and captures insightful nuance. She weaves childhood memories and anecdotes about her current life as a poet, college professor, wife, and mother into her rapturous takes on flora and fauna. In just one essay she folds in the ecstatic courting dance of a bird of paradise, the profusion of vivid saris at her wedding, also encompassing an inept DJ, the Macarena, and a New York dance floor flooded with guests from India and Kansas. Another essay celebrates the axolotl, an amazing salamander that always appears to be smiling. She recommends adopting that same expression when "a white girl tries to tell you what you can and cannot wear for make-up." Nezhukumatathil's essays, with vibrant illustrations from Fumi Mini Nakamura, are in turn humorous, poignant, relatable, passionate (especially when she's bemoaning disappearing species and habitats), and always interesting.


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

A poet celebrates the wonders of nature in a collection of essays that could almost serve as a coming-of-age memoir. The daughter of an Indian father and Filipino mother, Nezhukumatathil was often the only brown face in her classrooms, and she sought lessons from nature on how to adapt, protect herself, and conform or fit in but still be able to stand strong on her own. She shares those lessons throughout these frequently enchanting essays. Take the axolotl, from whom the author learned the “salamander smile”: “If a white girl tries to tell you what your brown skin can and cannot wear for makeup, just remember the smile of an axolotl. The best thing to do in that moment is to just smile and smile, even if your smile is thin. The tighter your smile, the tougher you become.” Nezhukumatathil’s investigations, enhanced by Nakamura’s vividly rendered full-color illustrations, range across the world, from a rapturous rendering of monsoon season in her father’s native India to her formative years in Iowa, Kansas, and Arizona, where she learned from the native flora and fauna that it was common to be different. The corpse flower guided the author when she met her future husband, helping her to “clear out the sleaze, the unsavory, the unpleasant—the weeds—of the dating world” and “find a man who’d be happy when I bloomed.” Nezhukumatathil isn’t only interested in nature as metaphor. She once devoted most of a year’s sabbatical to the study of whale sharks, and she humanizes her experience of natural splendor to the point where observation and memory merge, where she can’t see or smell something without remembering the details of her environment when she first encountered it. Among other fascinating species, the author enlightens readers on the vampire squid, the bonnet macaque, and the red-spotted newt. The writing dazzles with the marvel of being fully alive. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Award-winning poet Nezhukumatathil (English, Univ. of Mississippi; Oceanic) intertwines snapshots of memoir with a fascinating look at various animals and plants in this account weaving memories of growing up feeling like an outsider, a brown girl in an overwhelmingly white world, with facts about the flora and fauna that are important touchstones for her. She shares reminiscences about her family, her work, and the importance of the natural world in her life. Racism follows her from childhood, including an instance when a teacher dismisses her drawing of a favorite bird because it's not an American species. Throughout, she describes how she turned to nature in times of need, finding both comfort and solace. Elegant illustrations by Nakamura enhance the text. VERDICT A lyrical exploration of a woman finding her true home in the world, interspersed with hauntingly beautiful descriptions of the lives of the animals and plants that illuminate it, this natural history will appeal to nature lovers and readers who relish thoughtful, introspective works. Also suggest to fans of Margaret Renkl's Late Migrations.—Sue O'Brien, Downers Grove, IL

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