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An uncommon DIY for exuberant rule breakers.

In the spirit of Alice’s madcap adventure down the rabbit hole, this stream-of-consciousness, metafictive exploration of the poetic process dips in and out of imagined reality as easily as the Cheshire Cat winks in and out of sight.

Herrera, a former United States Poet Laureate, launches with an exhortation to “Slide on your Jabber Booots!” Taking writing pad in hand, “You have to move fast!” if “Your burbles are going to become a / Seismic & Crazy Epic Poem!” Herrera’s rules for Jabberwalking-poets-in-waiting are simple: 1) “You do not have to know where you are going! / Or what you are saying!” 2) “move!” 3) “SCRIBBLE your burbles, your words of things…Jabber!” In this topsy-turvy vision, the brain is really a burrito that spews cosmos-changing revelations to anyone paying attention. “After four hours of nonstop Jabberwriting… / YOU! In four hours—will have an… / ALMOST-BOOK!” The challenge is to interpret the resulting scribbled “burbles,” but fear not, the challenge isn’t really a challenge because no one is expected to “understand” or “decipher.” A Jabberwalker’s sole directive is to create something that’s not a “typical poem!” Between looking for the narrator's dog, Lotus, flying to the Library of Congress, landing on the word planet Pluto, and meeting a couple of Jabberbloggers, Jabberwalkers everywhere will have hopped, flown, and leapt through shape-changing exultations that have freed their “Mind-Brains.” In the right hands, all the wacky assignments and Herrera’s autobiographical “Jabber Notebook” entries will ultimately spawn incandescent thinkers who will leap to the “flamey / Stars!”—or so Herrera hopes.

An uncommon DIY for exuberant rule breakers. (Nonfiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: March 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0140-6

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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This probing psychological journey makes for an exciting exploration in empathy.

This Dutch import pairs portraits with poetry to articulate wrenching individualism, yearning, humor, desires, and pathos.

Transfixing faces—mostly pale, all moon-shaped and with unsettlingly wide-set eyes—conjure mildly unnerving sensations in readers, who will seek to understand, empathize, or at least interpret their expressions. These faces aren’t posing or posturing; they’re flat on the page, laid bare. Older children and teens, in particular, keenly aware of feelings, faces, and masks, will dwell upon these ambiguous, baffling visages. Colmer’s sensitive translation emerges as crucial, as the pictures’ powerful poignancy begs for explanation. Voiced in the first person, one of Tellegen’s poems appears opposite each portrait, expressing the characters’ deeply personal wishes and ringing with their unique phrasing and particular timbre. “I wish happiness was a thing and I / found it somewhere and took it home with me,” confides Carl, one of the book’s few kids of color. Piero, a white boy, grumbles, “I would like first of all to express my sincere thanks / to whoever gave me my looks. / I mean: IN-sincere. / Because I look horrible.” The kids’ names are printed close to the book’s gutter, bridging language and art. These many portraits and poems beg to be leafed through and read in several sittings, as they house too much emotional energy to digest in one read.

This probing psychological journey makes for an exciting exploration in empathy. (Picture book/poetry. 12-16)

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-939810-32-8

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Elsewhere Editions

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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