Several of the poems from Rylant’s wry meditation God Went to Beauty School (2003) are regathered, rearranged and luminously illustrated by Frazee.
Notably absent is the poem “God Is a Girl,” as Rylant has expanded that notion by occasionally regendering the deity so He becomes She in roughly half the poems. In the titular poem, readers learn that “She never meant to. / … / She was always working / and dogs needed so / much attention. / God didn’t know if She / could take being needed / by one more thing.” Frazee’s illustrations take the idea of the multiplicity of God in all of us and run with it, depicting Him or Her as a black, tattooed nail artist; a middle-aged white woman eating by herself; a little dark-skinned boy on roller skates (with hair sticking straight! up!); a bearded, dark-skinned dude playing poker with Gabriel; a homeless black woman. An illustration appears opposite each poem, allowing readers to stop and ponder each of God’s earthly aspects. Divinity is indicated with a faint halo, but Frazee never sacrifices the ineffable humanity of each depiction; her Gods are fat, skinny, joyful, contemplative, worn-out. Readers will be glad and relieved when they turn the final page to learn that, having adopted Ernie the dog, God now “has somebody / keeping Her feet warm at night.”
Funny, devout and oh, so human; this collection hits home. (Poetry. 10 & up)