In illustrator Archer’s first book as author, rich, multilayered collages illuminate a celebration of nature’s beauty. At the city park gates, a boy with brown skin and dark curly hair sees a sign advertising a poetry event on Sunday. “What is poetry?” Daniel wonders. A page turn shows him gazing through a spider’s web hung with hundreds of tiny, rainbow-colored droplets of water. “To me,” the spider says, “poetry is when morning dew glistens.” Each spread brings an encounter with an animal and a new thought about poetry. Daniel peers wide-eyed into a chipmunk’s hole (“Poetry is a home with many windows in an old stone wall”) and trails a hand in a frog pond (“Poetry is a cool pond to dive into”). When Sunday comes, he’s seen in silhouette in the park in front of a small audience, reciting a poem woven from the animals’ answers. A story like this might take place in the country, but in setting hers in a large urban park, Archer (The Wise Fool) asserts that poetry and nature belong to city children, too. Ages 5–8. (Feb.)
Collage illustrations offer early readers an introduction to the beauty of poetry through the warmhearted relationships between a young boy and the friendly animals in his local park.
Readers meet young Daniel, a light-skinned black boy. He is befuzzled on a Monday morning walk through the park by the sign “Poetry in the park / Sunday at 6 o’clock.” Drawing on his Dr. Dolittle–esque friendships with the resident animals, he spends the week on a journey through serene landscapes to learn “What is poetry?” Thanks to Spider, Chipmunk, Turtle, Owl, and more, inquisitive Daniel collects hints in the form of metaphor along the way. Spider says that “poetry is when morning dew glistens.” Frog says poetry is “cool pools to dive into.” The liveliness of the language discloses early poetic mechanics such as alliteration (“sun-warmed sand”), onomatopoeia (“crisp leaves crunch”), a pinch of consonance (those internally rhyming “cool pools”). Readers travel from morning to evening, from Monday to Sunday, until Daniel arrives at the reading, assembling these textured phrases for his own poetic performance in front of a respectful crowd. In accessible yet colorful language, Archer reminds readers that poetry exists all around us.
A vividly illustrated, inventively told opportunity for early readers to grasp the power of language to observe, entertain, and mystify. (Picture book. 4-8)