soup of the day: bookspeak by laura purdie salas and josée bisaillon

Speaking of books, BookSpeak!, a brand new poetry collection written by Laura Purdie Salas and illustrated by Josée Bisaillonis officially out today!! WooHoo!

You’re gonna love all the quirky, illuminating poems (a veritable cacophony of wonderful voices) and the exuberant pictures that go with them. Talky talky talky!

But before we proceed any further, some party favors. First, a bookplate in honor of Laura (this one is not to be confused with the bookplate in Poem #12, who reminds us: “I don’t need your napkin./I’m not your soup bowl’s mate.”)

Next, in honor of Josée, a unicycle! You have your pick of colors. Feel free to cruise around the rest of this post on it.

Of course, to show both Laura and Josée just how excited you really are, you should balance your bookplate on your head while atop your uni! ☺

Okay, back to BookSpeak!

For all the words they contain, books usually don’t get to have their say. Now, thanks to these 21 free-wheeling, highly inventive poems, we hear just what they’ve been thinking and feeling all along. The elements of story, the pages they’re written on, even the dust jacket speak up, and they all have their own distinctive personalities.

In “Top Secret,” a diary is happy to house feelings, desires and dreams. “Cliffhanger” begs the author for a sequel, while “Conflicted” touts its importance despite being hated by its characters. “Hydrophobiac” fears getting wet and an “Index” pleads his case (so funny). Wait till you read about what really happens in a bookstore after it closes (“Lights Out at the Bookstore”). PAR-TAY!!

"Lights Out at the Bookstore"

I love all these unique points of view that really got me thinking about books in new and sometimes offbeat ways. The joyous riot of colors, patterns, and whimsical objects in Josée’s mixed media illustrations perfectly captures the spirit of each poem and extends the wild flights of fancy. I’m in love with all the polka dots, charming scribblings, emotive typography, and cars, boats, and planes ready to transport the reader into the world of his imagination. Oh, the adventures books afford, and the possibilities!

Hungry for a sample?  Here’s the first poem in the book:

(click to enlarge)


I’ll tell you a story.
I’ll spin you a rhyme.
I’ll spill some ideas —
and we’ll travel through time.

Put down the controller.
Switch off the TV.
Abandon the mouse and
just hang out with me.

I promise adventure.
Come on, take a look!
On a day like today,
there’s no friend like a book.

~ Copyright © 2011 Laura Purdie Salas. All rights reserved.


How about one more? Do you know how your library book views its time spent with you?

(click to enlarge)


Whenever I’m checked out, it’s like a vacation.
I’m scanned and I’m packed for a new destination!

I’ve floated in airplanes. I’ve lain on the beach.
I’ve hidden in bunk beds — just out of your reach.

Been stained by spaghetti, been splashed at the lake.
I’ve shared your adventures. I’ve kept you awake.

At night in your sleeping bag — too dark to see —
you whipped out a flashlight to keep reading me.

I never quite know where my reader is bound,
and hundreds of times I’ve been lost and then found.

It’s good to get home, look around, see what’s new,
but before long I’m antsy . . .

A trip’s overdue!

~ Copyright © 2011 Laura Purdie Salas. All rights reserved.


See what I mean? BookSpeak! is indeed a wonderful celebration of the written word and will get kids reading, thinking and laughing. Great poems to share in the classroom; “The Middle’s Lament: A Poem for Three Voices,” begs for a dramatic group reading.

Now, please join me in congratulating Laura and Josée. You are going to have to SLURP extra loudly today because, well, the soup, like the book, is noisy (chit, chat, mutter, whisper, babble, gab). The alphabet soup kitchen helpers had to wear ear muffs while preparing it. Just goes to show what happens when books are finally allowed to speak! S-L-U-R-P!!

Today's Special: Bookish Broth (a.k.a, "Chatterbox Chowder")

*covers ears*

Quite a racket, no doubt — but what do you expect when you’ve got a poet, illustrator, and four character voices in the same bowl?

Yes, yes, we have dessert. Wrap your lips around one of these cupcakes,

photo: ashleycupcakes/flickr

and help yourself to as many gumdrops as you want — those naughty books in that bookstore I mentioned earlier not only ate the treats in the cookbooks, but gobbled gumdrops like there was no tomorrow.

credit: unprose/flickr

Okay, you know the drill. Sashay over to your local indie or click through to your fave online bookseller to score your very own copy of BookSpeak! If you go to a bricks and mortar store, be sure to wear polka dots, take an umbrella, and/or ride over there on your unicycle (a little red car is good, too). Raise your hand politely when you face the cashier, and ask for permission to speak. When you do, give him/her an earful about how chewy good this book is. For a deep discount, casually mention the secret password, “Gumdrop.”

Thanks for creating this magical book, Laura and Josée!

BOOKSPEAK!: Poems About Books
by Laura Purdie Salas
illustrated by Josée Bisaillon
published by Clarion Books, October 2011
Poetry Picture Book for ages 4+, 32 pp.
On shelves now!


♥ Laura Purdie Salas Official Website and blog, Writing the World for Kids

♥ Josée Bisaillon Official Website and blog.

♥ Reviews: Publishers Weekly, Poetry for Children, Fiction Addict, Hooray For Books

Click here to see the Official Trailer.

♥ More Soup of the Day posts here.

*Spreads posted by permission, text copyright © 2011 Laura Purdie Salas, illustrations © Josée Bisaillon, Clarion Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2011 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

55 thoughts on “soup of the day: bookspeak by laura purdie salas and josée bisaillon

  1. WOOOOT!
    Love this one, especially that first poem. That’s the sort of thing I would have memorized as a kid and recited at every opportunity at school. What fun, and the artwork is just spot on.

    Congratulations, Laura & Josée!


  2. Thanks, Tanita!

    And thank you so much, Jama! What a beautiful launch birthday present for my youngest book! I am deeply grateful.

    And, I want one of those cupcakes.

    And, I hadn’t seen that PW review. Yippee!


  3. Thanks for the terrific introduction to Laura’s new book, Jama! I love that she approaches books from so many different angles. The illustrations look like they complement the poems perfectly — so fun and whimsical!

    My younger daughter glanced over my shoulder and fell in love with the cupcakes! Adorable.


    1. I love all the different angles too — refreshing and mind-expanding🙂. Wonder if Josée rides a unicycle in real life?

      Your daughter deserves extra cupcakes!!


  4. Yeah for Laura! I love the vacation poem, especially, and the illustrations are just brilliant–they add such an element of fun to each poem and really get the reader’s imagination going. So excited for Laura. Great post!


    1. This book is a joy from beginning to end. This is the first time I’d seen Josée’s work and I love it. She had me at the polka dots🙂.


  5. I love the poem about the library books that are checked out.

    It’s just as I suspected. There are all sorts of things going on among the books and shelves of the library that we know nothing about.


    There’s a book called
    “A Dictionary of Angels.”
    No one has opened it in fifty years,
    I know, because when I did,
    The covers creaked, the pages
    Crumbled. There I discovered

    The angels were once as plentiful
    As species of flies.
    The sky at dusk
    Used to be thick with them.
    You had to wave both arms
    Just to keep them away.

    Now the sun is shining
    Through the tall windows.
    The library is a quiet place.
    Angels and gods huddled
    In dark unopened books.
    The great secret lies
    On some shelf Miss Jones
    Passes every day on her rounds.

    She’s very tall, so she keeps
    Her head tipped as if listening.
    The books are whispering.
    I hear nothing, but she does.

    ~ Charles Simic, born 1938 in Yugoslavia, American poet, essayist, and translator


    1. What a wonderful poem, Maria. Love it! Now I wish I were taller so I could hear everything Miss Jones hears. Still, there *is* some whispering amongst the lower shelves. . .


  6. A blog that has such a gorgeous sense of art & text is wonderful as far as I’m concerned. And any comment section that brings Charles Simic into the mix is doubly grand. Wonderful wonderful!


    1. Thanks so much for the nice words and for stopping by today, Daniel. I hadn’t seen that Charles Simic poem before and am so glad Maria shared it 🙂.


  7. Ok, you know me and poetry, but I have to admit – the “Vacation Time!” told from a book’s perspective was both funny and interesting. I’d never thought about viewing life through a book’s eyes before!


    1. :D!!

      Now you finally know what all those library books at your house are really thinking. Definitely not something I’d thought of before either. Laura’s the best!


    2. Anyone who doesn’t like poetry just hasn’t found the right poems for them yet! It’s what I try to share with kids and teachers. There is poetry for every single kind of person/kid–bouncy, cheery, melancholy, ridiculous, sad, sarcastic, clever…you name it. It’s my favorite thing about poetry–everyone can find a home in it somewhere. Thanks for reading these poems even though poetry is not generally your thing:>)


    1. Thanks, Robyn — I wholly agree. There could be a problem with them being on permanent vacation, though . . . what do you suppose the purchased books are thinking?


  8. I’ve shared your review with our librarian-so wonderful to see what you’ve done to give us another look into this book. I love the check-out poem-pure whimsey. There are many poems out there about books, and this book of Laura’s is a wonderful addition to them.


  9. jama, your post is really wonderful! Just the right amount of exposure and tease. I can’t wait to see Laura and Josee’s book and will definitely share this post with my librarian.


  10. What a wonderful celebration of books – and needless to say, it’s bound to be NoIsY indeed – what with all the rolling words, pages riffling, chapters hopping – and an index that practically begs its case! How lovely! We’re going to have a poetry-inspired theme in our next bimonthly theme, and this sounds like a perfect book to feature. Love the soup, but love the cupcakes more! I want that for my daughter’s birthday.🙂


    1. Oh, a poetry inspired theme! Can’t wait🙂.

      The index poem is definitely a favorite. I really have a whole new appreciation for indexes now.


  11. Jama, I love your pic of the book on the plate! Adorable! And I am enamored of this book already. Especially love that last octopus illustration. Very very cute. Thanks for sharing and big congrats to Laura!


    1. Thanks, Irene! I just “happened” to have a few polka dot dishes around here that looked just like Josée’s dots.

      So much to love about this book :)!


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