VOICES

POETRY AND ART FROM AROUND THE WORLD

“Our garden / doesn’t spread out very far, it’s a little affair / in which we won’t lose each other. / For you and me it’s enough.” Though hung on a geographical framework, with a section for each inhabited continent, this generous array of short poems, gathered from dozens of countries, covers a universe of topics, as do the accompanying folk- and fine-art illustrations. The selections are mostly free verse, mostly less than a century old, and although the work of many translators, form a harmonious chorus, whether the poet is singing to the sun-as-warrior (“The fearful night sinks / trembling into the depth / before your lightning eye . . .”) or chasing a wind-blown bagel down the street, mourning a lost child, or joyfully exclaiming, “my stomach / shouts with hunger / when I smell / the delicious / tortillas.” The art, too, forms a seamless tapestry, despite diverse visions and styles, so that a lush Diego Rivera scene shares a spread nicely with a riotously colored Aztec bas-relief, a piece of kente cloth with an ancient bust of Nefertiti. The poetry is all reprinted, and there is seldom information about poets or artists beyond country of origin and dates, but this handsome, readable collection outdoes even Kenneth Koch’s and Kate Farrell’s Talking to the Sun (1985) in demonstrating the unity beneath the diversity of human artistic vision. (credits, index) (Poetry/art. 8+)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-7922-7071-1

Page Count: 96

Publisher: National Geographic

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2000

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An emotional and powerful story with soaring poetry.

LAND OF THE CRANES

A fourth grader navigates the complicated world of immigration.

Betita Quintero loves the stories her father tells about the Aztlán (the titular land of cranes), how their people emigrated south but were fabled to return. Betita also loves to write. She considers words like “intonation,” “alchemy,” and “freedom” to be almost magic, using those and other words to create picture poems to paint her feelings, just like her fourth grade teacher, Ms. Martinez, taught her. But there are also words that are scary, like “cartel,” a word that holds the reason why her family had to emigrate from México to the United States. Even though Betita and her parents live in California, a “sanctuary state,” the seemingly constant raids and deportations are getting to be more frequent under the current (unnamed) administration. Thinking her family is safe because they have a “petition…to fly free,” Betita is devastated when her dad is taken away by ICE. Without their father, the lives of the Quinteros, already full of fear and uncertainty, are further derailed when they make the small mistake of missing a highway exit. Salazar’s verse novel presents contemporary issues such as “zero tolerance” policies, internalized racism, and mass deportations through Betita’s innocent and hopeful eyes, making the complex topics easy to understand through passionate, lyrical verses.

An emotional and powerful story with soaring poetry. (Verse fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-34380-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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A beautiful, powerful reflection on a tragic history.

ON THE HORIZON

In spare verse, Lowry reflects on moments in her childhood, including the bombings of Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima. 

When she was a child, Lowry played at Waikiki Beach with her grandmother while her father filmed. In the old home movie, the USS Arizona appears through the mist on the horizon. Looking back at her childhood in Hawaii and then Japan, Lowry reflects on the bombings that began and ended a war and how they affected and connected everyone involved. In Part 1, she shares the lives and actions of sailors at Pearl Harbor. Part 2 is stories of civilians in Hiroshima affected by the bombing. Part 3 presents her own experience as an American in Japan shortly after the war ended. The poems bring the haunting human scale of war to the forefront, like the Christmas cards a sailor sent days before he died or the 4-year-old who was buried with his red tricycle after Hiroshima. All the personal stories—of sailors, civilians, and Lowry herself—are grounding. There is heartbreak and hope, reminding readers to reflect on the past to create a more peaceful future. Lowry uses a variety of poetry styles, identifying some, such as triolet and haiku. Pak’s graphite illustrations are like still shots of history, adding to the emotion and somber feeling. He includes some sailors of color among the mostly white U.S. forces; Lowry is white.

A beautiful, powerful reflection on a tragic history. (author’s note, bibliography) (Memoir/poetry. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-358-12940-0

Page Count: 80

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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