Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Firefly July

Booklist starred (January 1, 2014 (Vol. 110, No. 9))
Preschool-Grade 3. Celebrated poet and anthologist Janeczko has collected 36 very short poems (none is longer than 10 lines) about the seasons. The selections are by both children’s poets (Charlotte Zolotow, April Halprin Wayland, J. Patrick Lewis, Eve Merriam, and more) and adult poets (Carl Sandburg, Robert Frost, Ted Kooser, William Carlos Williams). In their brevity, the poems remind us that less can often be more and that there is art in economy. Every reader—or listener—will have his or her favorite poem, but some that are outstanding include Gerald Jonas’ “In Passing,” Joyce Sidman’s “A Happy Meeting,” J. Patrick Lewis’ “Firefly July,” April Halprin Wayland’s “Sandpipers,” and Ted Kooser’s “Snow Fence.” Only a few of the poems are universally familiar: William Carlos Williams’ “The Red Wheelbarrow,” Carl Sandburg’s “Fog,” and—arguably—Robert Frost’s “Dust of Snow.” For young children, most of the others will be agreeable surprises, and each entry offers a happy encounter with words put beautifully together. Caldecott Honor Book artist Sweet’s pictures are, in a word, gorgeous. Executed in watercolor, gouache, and mixed-media, they capture and expand the spirit and sensibility of the verses they illustrate to wonderful effect. The harmonious cooperation of words and images provides a memorable reading experience for each season and for the whole year round.

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