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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A poem about the pandemic with vivid illustrations and a strong environmental message.

AND THE PEOPLE STAYED HOME

During a period of quarantine, people discover new ways to live—and new lessons about how to care for the planet—in this debut picture book.

In this work’s poem, O’Meara describes lockdowns experienced by many across the world during the first days of the Covid-19 pandemic. Beginning with the title phrase, the author discusses quiet activities of solitude and togetherness as well as more boisterous ways of interacting. These times of being apart give people a new perspective, and when they reunite, “they grieved their losses, / and made new choices” to restore the planet. The spare verse allows the illustrations by Di Cristofaro and Pereda to take center stage. The colorful, slightly abstract cartoons depict a rainbow of people and pets, many of them living in apartments but some residing in larger, greener spaces. Images of nature healing show the author’s vision of hope for the future. While this was written in March and originally published as an online poem, the lack of an explicit mention of the reason behind the lockdowns (and the omission of the experiences of essential workers) could offer readers an opportunity to imagine a planetary healing beyond the pandemic that inspired the piece. The accessible prose and beautiful images make this a natural selection for young readers, but older ones may appreciate the work’s deeper meaning.

A poem about the pandemic with vivid illustrations and a strong environmental message.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73476-178-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tra Publishing

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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A sanitized version of a too-short life.

I AM ANNE FRANK

From the Ordinary People Change the World series

A bobblehead avatar of the teenage writer and symbol of the Holocaust presents her life as an inspiration.

From a big-eared babyhood and a childhood spent “writing stories” to fleeing Germany for Amsterdam, Anne’s pre-Annex life is sketched. Narrating in the first person, the cartoon Anne explains that Nazis “didn’t like those of us who were Jewish or other groups who were different from them.” Hitler is presented as a leader “who blamed the Jews for all of Germany’s problems, even though we hadn’t done anything wrong.” Then in short order Anne receives her diary as a birthday present, the family goes into hiding, and Anne finds solace in the attic looking at the chestnut tree and writing. Effectively, Annex scenes are squeezed between broad black borders. Illustrations present four snippets of quotes from her diary, including “I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart.” Narrator Anne says, “You can always find light in the darkest places. That’s what hope is,” as she clutches the diary with Shabbat candles on one side and a menorah burning brightly on the other. In the next double-page spread, an international array of modern-day visitors standing outside the Anne Frank House briefly, in speech bubbles, wraps up the story of the Holocaust, the diary, the Annex, and the chestnut tree. Anne’s wretched death in a concentration camp is mentioned only in a concluding timeline. I Am Benjamin Franklin publishes simultaneously. (This book was reviewed digitally with 7.5-by-15-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

A sanitized version of a too-short life. (photos, sources, further reading) (Picture book/biography. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-55594-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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