Kirkus Reviews QR Code
PABLO NERUDA by Monica Brown Kirkus Star


Poet of the People

by Monica Brown, illustrated by Julie Paschkis

Age Range: 4 - 11

Pub Date: March 29th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-8050-9198-4
Publisher: Henry Holt

More than a heartwarming portrait of Chile’s most revered poet, this splendid tribute to Pablo Neruda animates his global appeal with a visceral immediacy capable of seducing readers of any age. Brown’s spare descriptions of the little boy who “loved wild things wildly and quiet things quietly” and grew to write poems about “velvet cloth the color of the sea,” contrasts wonderfully with Paschkis’ lush, earth-toned paintings that teem with the florid stream of words and images populating the inner world of the budding poetic consciousness. The word-laden illustrations, sporting names of authors in tree bark or swirling adjectives in the hollow of the moon, are a constant throughout the volume, spilling from Spanish to English, sound to sense—“arc oro orange azure azul ample apple simple timber timbre…”—and back again, with as great a depiction of creative processing as one’s likely to see. At pains to depict Neruda above all as “a poet of the people,” Brown encourages young readers to notice the suggestive world around them and then render it for others through language. She moves seamlessly from describing Neruda’s poetic artistry to political activism, showing how an appreciation for the stones of Chile “tumbling down the mountaintops” could lead to his understanding of their value in “the hands of the stonecutters.” A visual and thematic stunner. (author's note, bibliography) (Picture book. 4-11)