FUEL by Naomi Shihab Nye


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The author of a YA novel (Habibi) and editor of a few anthologies of poems for children, Nye (The Red Suitcase) not surprisingly values the innocence of the young; her poems exult in simple things and possibilities, for —NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE,’she shouts. But her hope sometimes borders on naive, especially when she proclaims, —the word —together— wants to live in every house.— Nye’s —ravenous joy— often involves her son, who says all kinds of cute stuff, and whose everyday profundities she records seriatim (—One Boy Told Me—); and with whom she chats at the ballet; and who also teaches her the mysteries of roller-skating, and, of course, love (—So There—). Nye also delights in used clothing, the pencil, carnivals, rising early, and her husband’s New England ancestors. She herself never fails to remind us indifferent Westerners of her father’s Palestinian roots, and the sadness she finds in the old country, where they—ve given up parties for war, and ancient olive trees are uprooted. There are some other sorrows in these simple poems, but they—re mostly remote—the victims of war, those suffering from a drought, and a lonely widower. Nye’s gentle parables find expression in occasional prose: a girl cries on the beach in Honolulu; the poet receives phone calls meant for a rowdy bar; and—alas—all her mail (in —Sad Mail—) seems to be from people wanting things from her, the powerful poet. At her best, Nye trills childlike songs of joy, but her efforts to balance all the enthusiasm strain for seriousness.

Pub Date: June 8th, 1998
ISBN: 1-880238-63-2
Page count: 140pp
Publisher: BOA Editions
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1998


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