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Saturday, November 14, 2015

Poetry Meets Photographs

The National Geographic Book of Nature Poetry has been my companion as I eat my morning oatmeal and drink my after school tea. I knew I'd love this book. A companion to the National Geographic Book of Animal Poetry, it is filled with beautiful images captured from around the world by obviously talented photographers and perfectly paired with exceptional poems by the world's best poets. I looked many times to the photo credits to see if by chance the photographer might also have been the poet! I knew, of course, that Robert Louis Stevenson did not take the photo of the blue origami boat that floats alongside his poem "Where Go the Boats?" and that neither Robert Frost nor Henry David Thoreau captured the image of Lopez Island in Washington State. But Joyce Sidman has stood upon a Moeraki Boulder in New Zealand, so it is possible her own photograph might be the backdrop for her words (in concrete form), and Naomi Shihab Nye must have visited the Badlands to write "Fossil Beds at the Badlands." No matter. All the pairings are engagingly beautiful.

Grouped into ten sections, the old and new poems reflect nature's wonders in the sky and sea, on the land and in action, in brightness and shade, in distress and through the seasons. J. Patrick Lewis's curation of this volume must have provided him and the many who helped organize it with delight and gratitude. Both his introduction and his closing words (in a thoughtful and encouraging piece entitled "Who is Mother Nature?") frame the choices included in the book. His photograph on the dust jacket shows him with a stack of books from which he selected poems. 

This book is a gem. I hate to return it to the library!

Friday, November 13, 2015

The Sun

There is something glorious about strong sunshine on a chilly autumn day. Stepping outside at lunch for a quick walk, I savored the clear sky and the bright light. Energy filled me. A sense of calm did, too.

When I got to the public library after school, I was delighted to find Bob Graham's new book waiting on the interlibrary loan shelf for me. The sun was almost on the horizon, setting for the night, when I brought the book home. Ahh. How the Sun Got to Coco's House was the perfect book for me today.

The sun stars as the main character, lightly buttering the pages as it touches random objects on its way to Coco's window. "It had to start somewhere," begins the text. From the Arctic to a fisherman's cap, the sun touched places large and small, created shadows, balances, waits patiently when window coverings are closed, crosses streets, and woke creatures along the way. It "took passing glances at itself in office towers" (one of my favorite lines) and eventually "had time on its hands" to spend with Coco and her friends. 

Graham's text is lovely, surprising at times, and filled with active language. It makes me want to personify something I love. The watercolor artwork is soft, brushed with gentle yellow rays, patches, and lines. This will be the perfect book for sharing aloud when the winter snow and chillier air is warmed by sunshine.