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I Saw a Peacock with a Fiery Tail

Last updated Monday, March 23, 2015

Author: Ramsingh Urveti
Illustrator: Ramsingh Urveti
Date of Publication: 2012
ISBN: 9380340141
Grade Level: 3rd    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: May 2014

Synopsis: A well-known folk poem from 17th century England, "I Saw a Peacock with a Fiery Tail" is a form of trick verse. Depending on how each line is read, it is either fantastical or makes perfect sense. This inspired version of the classic poem plays with these inversions, using art and design in the service of language. Working together, revealing and concealing, they brilliantly mirror the shifting ways in which poetry creates meaning.

Note to readers:
•  This may be a tricky poem to read. You may want to read the entire poem first (see inside front cover), then read each page in the book. You can then discuss how reading each line without a break is "fantastical" versus reading each line with a break (as shown on the front cover) makes perfect sense.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  What is a fiery tail?
•  What would a peacock with a fiery tail look like?

•  peacock - a large male peafowl that has a very long bright blue and green tail that it can lift up and spread apart like a fan
•  comet - an object in outer space that develops a long, bright tail when it passes near the sun
•  hail - precipitation in the form of small balls or lumps usually consisting of concentric layers of clear ice and compact snow
•  ale - a fermented malt beverage, similar to beer

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Do you like this poem in the order it is written? Or would you prefer the lines to be rearranged to make more sense?
•  How would changing the grammar & punctuation change the meaning of the poem?
•  How do the illustrations contribute to the poem?

Craft ideas:
•  Draw a colorful peacock with a fiery tail.
•  Draw a layered picture (similar to two pages in the book). Fold a piece of paper in half. Draw a whole picture on the front page, cut out a piece & draw the remainder of the first picture on the second page. Add more to the second picture on the second page.
•  Draw a picture using the stipple technique (use dots to creative a picture).

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don't have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!