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LAUGHING OUT LOUD, I FLY by Juan Felipe Herrera


by Juan Felipe Herrera & illustrated by Karen Barbour

Age Range: 12 - 14

Pub Date: May 31st, 1998
ISBN: 0-06-027604-5
Publisher: HarperCollins

Citing Picasso’s Hunk of Skin as his inspiration, Herrera (Calling the Doves/El Canto de las Palomas, 1995) offers 22 poems in facing English and Spanish versions, printed over Barbour’s pale, floating figures of images from Mexican folk art. Subordinating meaning to sound and rhythm, the poet writes in quick, breathless phrases that sometimes read like random lists—“I own many socks, some with wings/others Alexandrines, 6 of white beaches/ . . . & 1 skin-diving pig, ‘Where are my sockos?’ as Papi says,/one tambourine socko for your flower-vase head.” Literalists may flounder, but the music comes through clearly, especially in the Spanish: “ ‘®D¢nde est†n mis calcetas?’ como dice Papi,/una calceta de pandereta para tu maceta.” The voice is a child’s, and while references to places in Mexico, California, and the Southwest—as well as Chechnya and Sarajevo—flicker past, it’s food and family, spices, pets, and friends that recur. This is poetry to read aloud, to read quickly, to understand more with the heart than with the head. (Poetry. 12-14)