At once spare and lush: a gorgeous introduction to the power of poetry.

16 WORDS

WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS AND "THE RED WHEELBARROW"

The fictionalized backstory behind William Carlos Willams’ most famous poem.

In her picture-book debut, Rogers teams up with Groenink to offer a glimpse of William Carlos Williams’ intriguing life and to imagine what may have inspired his signature poem, “The Red Wheelbarrow”: “so much depends / upon / a red wheel / barrow / glazed with rain / water / beside the white / chickens.” Written in 1923 in suburban northern New Jersey, this 16-word free-verse lyric helped establish the family physician/poet as a beacon of 20th-century American imagist poetry. Here Rogers saves this compact, kid-friendly poem as the finale to her clever, biographically rooted close reading, in which she explores what exactly depends upon that wheelbarrow: namely the livelihood of gardener Thaddeus Marshall, Williams’ neighbor, and those fed by the vegetables the wheelbarrow helps him deliver—and Williams’ yearning to create art. Rogers not only calls attention to the objects included in the poem, but pointedly notes what was omitted: “Those sixteen words…do not describe Mr. Marshall’s life of work or caring or love. But somehow they say just that.” Groenink’s richly layered, chalky illustrations expressively realize in muted earth tones the all-important everyday elements of Williams’ world. They reveal Marshall to be black—one of few people of color living alongside the mostly white population of Rutherford, New Jersey.

At once spare and lush: a gorgeous introduction to the power of poetry. (author’s note, further reading) (Picture book/poetry. 3-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-2016-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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Sage, soothing ideas for a busy, loud, sometimes-divisive world.

GRANDMA'S GARDENS

In an inviting picture book, Chelsea and Hillary Clinton share personal revelations on how gardening with a grandmother, a mother, and children shapes and nurtures a love and respect for nature, beauty, and a general philosophy for life.

Grandma Dorothy, the former senator, secretary of state, and presidential candidate’s mother, loved gardens, appreciating the multiple benefits they yielded for herself and her family. The Clinton women reminisce about their beloved forebear and all she taught them in a color-coded, alternating text, blue for Chelsea and green for Hillary. Via brief yet explicit remembrances, they share what they learned, observed, and most of all enjoyed in gardens with her. Each double-page spread culminates in a declarative statement set in italicized red text invoking Dorothy’s wise words. Gardens can be many things: places for celebration, discovery and learning, vehicles for teaching responsibility in creating beauty, home to wildlife large and small, a place to share stories and develop memories. Though operating from very personal experience rooted in class privilege, the mother-daughter duo mostly succeeds in imparting a universally significant message: Whether visiting a public garden or working in the backyard, generations can cultivate a lasting bond. Lemniscates uses an appropriately floral palette to evoke the gardens explored by these three white women. A Spanish edition, Los jardines de la abuela, publishes simultaneously; Teresa Mlawer’s translation is fluid and pleasing, in at least one case improving on the original.

Sage, soothing ideas for a busy, loud, sometimes-divisive world. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-11535-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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A sweet and quiet homage to friendship, nature, and the power of words and poetry.

POETREE

A little girl enjoys writing poems and gets an unexpected surprise when she writes a poem and gives it to a tree, making “the world more splendid."

Sylvia marks the end of winter with a poem about springtime. After reading it to a squirrel, she ties it to a tree (“hoping that it didn’t count as littering”). When she passes the tree on her way to school the next day, she finds a surprise—another poem on the tree. “She never imagined the tree might write back.” Sylvia continues to write poems to the tree and waits to find the next poem. When she realizes a teasing classmate, Walt, is the author of the other poems, she is sad: “Had the tree she loved so much not given her a thing?” Not too unsurprisingly, the two poets become friends, harmoniously trading rhymes beneath the tree that has brought them together. Using precise, intelligent prose, Reynolds captures moments of a child’s innocence: “ ‘So what’s your name?’ Sylvia asked the tree. But the tree stood in silence. ‘Are you shy like me?’ The tree nodded in the breeze. Sylvia understood.” Maydani’s delicate, pencil-and-watercolor paintings, suffused with spring pastels, affectionately invest Sylvia (who has brown skin), Walt (who presents white), and even the tree with personality.

A sweet and quiet homage to friendship, nature, and the power of words and poetry. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-53912-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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