J. Patrick Lewis
Illustrated by Kyle M. Stone
Poetry Picture Book
For ages 7 and up
Harcourt, 2005, 0-15-216387-5
Some poor people think that books serve only one purpose. You read them to be entertained or educated. They do not know that a good book “is a homing device / For navigating paradise” and that such a book has “a spine, / A heart, a soul,” and its goal is “To light a fire / (You’re the fuse).” A good book will be there whenever you need it and it will even be a kind of friend.
For this collection of poems J. Patrick Lewis finds a variety of ways to explore (and celebrate) books. There are so many different kinds of writing to enjoy. There are picture books, the best of which appeal to readers of all ages. Then there are poetry books, pop-up books, mysteries, myths, adventures, and legends. All of these kinds of writing give readers an experience that cannot be found by looking at a TV screen or a computer monitor.
Some of the poems in the collection are about characters, such as Otto the Flea who wrote his “Ottobiography” and Elaine who loves words so much that even an exciting movie does not capture her interest. She would much rather read Webster’s Dictionary than follow the antics of Godzilla on the big screen.
If you think this is rather over the top then you need to read about the person who wants to be buried in the library “With a dozen long-stemmed proses.” This person thinks that the “clean, well-lighted stacks” are the best place to spend eternity.
Though this book is for young readers, the poems will appeal to readers of all ages. Some of the poems will make readers laugh, while others are thought-provoking and more cerebral. Though the poems are all very different in form and flavor, they do have one thing in common: the all celebrate the written word.