Friday, July 13, 2018

Poetry Friday with a review of My People

When you are a child you often think that more is better. I have learned over the years that sometimes less is more. Today's poetry book is a perfect example of this. This is not a weighty tome. It is not packed with artwork and text. Instead it is spare, and simple, and incredibly beautiful. In the book gorgeous photos are paired with lines of verse written by Langston Hughes, and the words celebrate people of all kinds.

My peopleMy people
Langston Hughes
Photographer: Charles R. Smith Jr.
Poetry Picture Book
For ages 5 and up
Simon and Schuster, 2009   ISBN: 1416935401
In 1923, Langston Hughes, the African-American poet, wrote a poem that later came to be called “My People.” The poem is only thirty-three words long, and in it Langston Hughes invites his readers to see “his people” through fresh eyes. He invites them to see how beautiful they are, comparing them to the night, the stars, and the sun. Not only are their faces and eyes beautiful, but their souls are too.
   Using stunning full page sepia photographs, Charles R. Smith Jr. captures the essence of Langston Hughes’ poem. His photos show people of all ages smiling, laughing, and being themselves. The photos are indeed beautiful, and they give Langston Hughes' poetry a new dimension that readers of all ages with admire.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Picture Book Monday with a review of Bob's Blue Period

When I was a child I went through a period when everything I drew had flowers on it. Then I drew peace doves and nothing but peace doves. Then I was 'into' doodling with gold, white, and silver pens. Every artistic fad was inspired by something that was going on in my life at the time. Today you will meet an artistic bird who, because he is sad, finds himself going through a blue period.

Marion Deuchars
Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Laurence King, 2018, 978-1-78627-070-2
Bob the bird’s best friend is Bat, and the two animals are inseparable. They play games together, dance together, have tea parties, and best of all they paint together. Then one day Bat disappears and he leaves a note for Bird saying that he has to “go away for a while.” Bird is bereft without his friend. He mopes around until he decides to paint. Everything he paints is blue. He paints a blue banana, a blue orange, and a blue tree. For Bird there is “a big blue hole where Bat used to be.”
   When Cat and Owl come to Bird to have their portraits done they are rather disappointed to see that Bird has painted them blue too. Bird’s friends decide that something has to be done to pull Bird out of his state of blueness.
   When a friend goes away our lives can really be turned upside down. Suddenly nothing feels quite right, and we don’t know what to do with ourselves when our bestie isn’t around to share everything. In this sweet picture book Marion Deuchars explores, with sensitivity and touches of humor, what it feels like to miss a friend. As the story unfolds we see how important it is to try to hold onto the good things even when we are feeling sad.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Poetry Friday with a review of Old Elm Speaks

I love trees. Whenever life gets too hard or when my heart is aching, I head up into the hills to spend some time amongst the tress. Something about their quiet presence comforts and grounds me. I was therefore delighted to come across this wonderful book of poems. What could be better than a book that celebrates trees!

Old Elm Speaks: Tree PoemsOld Elm Speaks: Tree Poems 
Kristine O'Connell George
Illustrated by Kate Kiesler
Poetry Picture Book
For ages 5 to 8
Clarion Books, 2007, 978-0618752423
All too often we take trees for granted. We walk pass them without noticing their beauty, forgetting that they witness the many mini adventures that fill our lives. In this very special book we hear their voices, we see things from their point of view. We slow down and notice the small things, the little details in their lives. We come to appreciate them anew and to realize that they are there watching over us as we play, as we work, and as we explore our world.
   For example we come to realize that there is a special magic in the way in which a tiny leaf is "rolled and folded / neatly packed" in a bud. We laugh as we read about the "major tree traffic" that is running along a tree's branches as squirrels carry out their daily chores. We smile as two plump horses find a way to share the shade that one tree gives. We watch as two children plant a baby blue spruce in their garden, a tiny tree that one day will "scratch the sky" with its branches.
   Using a variety of poetry forms including free verse, rhyme and haiku, the author of this wonderful celebratory collection infuses her poems with every possible mood and emotion. She has an obvious appreciation for the way in which language can be used to give a poem rhythm, complexity and imagery.
   This is the perfect book for all those wonderful people out there who love and appreciate trees.
Bookmark and Share