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BIRDS ON A WIRE by J. Patrick Lewis


A Renga ’round Town

by J. Patrick Lewis & Paul B. Janeczko & illustrated by Gary Lippincott

Age Range: 6 - 9

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-1-59078-383-2
Publisher: Wordsong/Boyds Mills

Nostalgic images and low-key observations characterize this collaboration. The authors preface their work with a brief definition of the probably unfamiliar form called renga. A traditional Japanese verse form, renga can be simply translated as “linked verse,” though the rules governing its creation are apparently considerably more complicated. In this case, Lewis and Janeczko took turns writing five-line verses that take readers on both a temporal and physical journey. From the banks of a country creek through a series of encounters among small-town citizens, to the eponymous birds, the poems illuminate a single day. Realistic paintings in muted colors show the world from a variety of perspectives and help readers find connections between verses that follow one another as well as those that appear farther apart. Even with these visual cues, young listeners may need some assistance following the flow (and they may find the generally old-fashioned feel a bit off-putting). Once they grasp the concept, however, it seems likely that they would enjoy following the poets’ advice and trying their own hands at renga. (Poetry. 6-9)