In the comforting rhythm of these pages, children will absorb a message of faith in the power of art leavened by love.

THE GENIE IN THE JAR

A poem by Giovanni (Knoxville, Tennessee, 1994, etc.) for the singer Nina Simone becomes a luscious illustrated work with Raschka's watercolor, ink, and oil stick figures. 

Readers don't need to know anything about Simone to hear this book sing. "Take a note and spin it around…don't prick your finger…take a note and spin it around on the Black loom…Take a genie and put her in a jar, wrap the sky around her." The vocabulary is simple, and fairly dances with images as Giovanni weaves her story of music and heart. The figures—a small girl, her mother, and a circle of women—swoop and curve like musical notes. The textured Fabriano paper backgrounds make the art seem to pop off the page; the colors are rich and warm, in shades of tea, chocolate, malt, cappucino, and butter, with a vibrant azure cloud. As is true of good poetry, this piece begs to be read aloud; as is true of fine art, it repays repeated examination. 

In the comforting rhythm of these pages, children will absorb a message of faith in the power of art leavened by love.  (Picture book. 4-10)

Pub Date: March 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8050-4118-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1996

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A lyrical coming-of-age story in picture-book form that begs to be shared.

IMAGINE

Former Poet Laureate Herrera encourages his young readers to imagine all they might be in his new picture book.

Herrera’s free verse tells his own story, starting as a young boy who loves the plants and animals he finds outdoors in the California fields and is then thrust into the barren, concrete city. In the city he begins to learn to read and write, learning English and discovering a love for words and the way ink flows “like tiny rivers” across the page as he applies pen to paper. Words soon become sentences, poems, lyrics, and a means of escape. This love of the word ultimately leads him to make writing his vocation and to become the first Chicano Poet Laureate of the United States, an honor Herrera received in 2015. Through this story of hardship to success, expressed in a series of conditional statements that all begin “If I,” Herrera implores his readers to “imagine what you could do.” Castillo’s ink and foam monoprint illustrations are a tender accompaniment to Herrera’s verse, the black lines of her illustrations flowing across the page in rhythm with the author’s poetry. Together this makes for a charming read-aloud for groups or a child snuggled in a lap.

A lyrical coming-of-age story in picture-book form that begs to be shared. (Picture book/memoir. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9052-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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See, hear, touch, taste, smell...and imagine poetry all around you.

KIYOSHI'S WALK

A neighborhood walk unleashes the power of poetry.

Kiyoshi, a boy of Japanese heritage, watches his poet grandfather, Eto, write a poem in calligraphy. Intrigued, Kiyoshi asks, “Where do poems come from?” So begins a meditative walk through their bustling neighborhood, in which Kiyoshi discovers how to use his senses, his power of observation, and his imagination to build a poem. After each scene, Eto jots down a quick poem that serves as both a creative activity and an instruction for Kiyoshi. Eventually Kiyoshi discovers his own poetic voice, and together the boy and his grandfather find poems all around them. Spare, precise prose is coupled with the haiku Kiyoshi and his grandfather create, building the story through each new scene to expand Kiyoshi’s understanding of the origin of poems. Sensory language, such as flicked, whooshed, peeked, and reeled, not only builds readers’ vocabulary, but also models the vitality and precision of creative writing. The illustrations are just as thoughtfully crafted. Precisely rendered, the artwork is soft, warm, and captivating, offering vastly different perspectives and diverse characters who make up an apparently North American neighborhood that feels both familiar and new for a boy discovering how to view the world the way a poet does. Earth tones, coupled with bright yellows, pinks, and greens, draw readers in and encourage them to linger over each spread. An author’s note provides additional information about haiku.

See, hear, touch, taste, smell...and imagine poetry all around you. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-62014-958-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Lee & Low Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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