[review + giveaway] Illusions: Poetry & Art for the Young At Heart by Charles Ghigna and Chip Ghigna

“Everything you can imagine is real.” ~ Pablo Picasso


Not too long ago, I featured a few word-gems from Charles Ghigna’s, Dear Poet: Notes to a Young Writer (Resource Publications, 2019). When I paired Charles’s words with his son Chip’s art, I didn’t realize that just a short time later they would publish a book together!

In Illusions: Poetry & Art for the Young at Heart (Resource Publications, 2020), these two incredibly talented creatives explore their fascination with dreams and illusions, as they delve into the mysteries of creativity and champion the innate ability of each individual to shape his own reality.

Geared towards tweens and teens (and as the title suggests, anyone who’s young at heart), the 22 poems and images encourage readers to think outside the box, celebrate the fine art of play, and be bold in envisioning all the possibilities.

If there is any “secret” to creativity and courting the muse, perhaps it’s all about accessing one’s inner child, for therein lies openness, intuition, spontaneity, and a direct line to the imagination.


Cover Art: “Tree of Hope” by Chip Ghigna


These are poems where daydreaming is actively encouraged, and communing with nature is a holistic, spiritual experience, rich with “Inspiration”:

It is the sound
of the wind
and the silence of the night.

It is the sun
and the moon
and the memory.

In the lyrically beautiful poem, “One,” we are reminded of the interconnectedness of all living things, that time is a continuum, and that there is wisdom to be gleaned by choosing to remain aware, alert, and engaged. Glory and wonder are ours for the taking.

There is clever wordplay, too, like in the whimsical poem, “Art”:

Art is undefinable,
A mystery of creation
Inspired by a pigment
Of your imagination.

Makes me smile every time. 🙂

“Ars Longa, Vita Brevis,” a paean to the art of living, is chiseled to perfection with sculpting as an extended metaphor. There are also several heartwarming love poems, and in “Aries Sideshow,” a splendid bit of magic:

Like a magnet
under the magician’s table
the swan’s reflection
pulls her across the lake,

Love that!




Chip Ghigna’s stylized black-and-white paintings and line drawings extend and amplify recurring themes of the natural and celestial worlds. Lots of moons and elongated figures (are they tall trees or people or both?) underscore the importance of perception — taking careful second and third looks, finding something surprising you didn’t realize was there.

Trees are a wonderful symbol of growth, strength, creativity, and ancient wisdom. Rooted in the earth, their branches reach for the sky — to higher levels of belief and understanding. An apt metaphor for encouraging young readers to s-t-r-e-t-c-h their abilities by trusting their instincts.


“Thinking Tree”


And the moon? An orb of light that’s dreamy, mysterious, beautiful, and changeable. Life holds so many surprises as we make our way through the world. Embrace the mystery: aren’t the questions sometimes more important than the answers? There’s a dark and light side to every situation.

Charles and Chip, father and son, have a unique symbiotic relationship. They practice different art forms, yet both share a similar sensibility when it comes to a reverence for nature, an affection for the fantastical, and a respect for the creative process that begins long before pen touches paper or paint touches canvas. Creatives believe in the primacy of the imagination, and that if, as human beings, we rely solely on our five senses, we perceive only a minuscule portion of what is truly out there. Dream, and then make it so.




How fabulous that Charles’s poems inspire Chip’s art, and Chip’s art ignites Charles’s poetic muse! Don’t you love the dynamic interplay between their works? They have such a special bond that only serves to strengthen their familial one.

I am reminded of Wordsworth’s poem, “My Heart Leaps Up”:

My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!
The Child is father of the Man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.

Wordsworth celebrated his ability to feel that same sense of joy he experienced in childhood, knowing that this was crucial to sustaining his poetic gift. Perhaps Charles sees the child he was in Chip, as Chip loves and admires the man who influenced who he is now.

Illusions is a treasure for the young at heart. The poems are warm, nurturing, and self empowering, while the pictures encourage us to open our minds to what we can’t readily see. Whoever said, “Reality is an illusion, and the truth lies beyond your wildest dreams” must have been a poet and an artist. 🙂

Enjoy these sample poems.



“To the Moon”



Life’s an illusion.
A dream on the wing.
A summerful fancy.
A winter of spring.

Life is a circus.
A high-wire act.
A tiptoe of balance.
A never-look-back.

Life is a garden.
A path in the wood.
An apple tree tease
From shouldn’t to should.

Life is a lover.
A promise to keep.
A wish for tomorrow
In a daydream of sleep.



“Tall Tales”



They are the children
who sit by the window,
their minds and their hearts
full of love.

They are the children
who sit by the window,
their thoughts
in the clouds high above.

In dreams drawn by pixies,
they stream from the sixties
to lead a new band
through the crowd.

They dance and they hum,
they beat their own drum
in songs
so silently loud.

They paint and they play
the night into day.
They color the sky
orange blue.

Through sunshine
and thunder,
they sit and they wonder
of new worlds yet to come true.








Be still in the world wherever you are,
listen to life’s lullaby;
the heartbeat, the breathing, the giving, receiving,
the sun and the moon and the star.

They all shine true through the essence of you,
a beacon of boundless light;
the father, the mother, the sister, the brother,
all are within you tonight.

Let the flow of the seas, the lilt of the breeze,
the rush and the calm of all time
carry your dreams along rivers and streams
and let you be still where you are.




Chip and Charles Ghigna at the Roosevelt Hotel, NYC



Charles Ghigna—Father Goose®—lives in a treehouse in the middle of Alabama. He is the author of more than one hundred books from Random House, Simon & Schuster, Time Inc., Disney, Hyperion, Scholastic, and other publishers. He has written more than five thousand poems for children and adults. His work appears in anthologies, newspapers, and magazines ranging from The New Yorker and Harper’s to Highlights and Cricket. He served as poet-in-residence and chair of creative writing at the Alabama School of Fine Arts, instructor of creative writing at Samford University, and as a nationally syndicated feature writer for Tribune Media.


Chip Ghigna lives in Birmingham, Alabama. His paintings appear in galleries, corporations, and private collections throughout the U.S. and France.




ILLUSIONS: Poetry & Art for the Young at Heart
written by Charles Ghigna
illustrated by Chip Ghigna
published by Resource Publications, March 2020
Poetry for ages 10+, 48 pp.




Mr Cornelius and Blue Bear are happy to offer a copy of ILLUSIONS for one lucky Alphabet Soup reader. For a chance to win, simply leave a comment at this post no later than midnight (EDT) Wednesday, May 27, 2020. You may also enter by sending an email with ILLUSIONS in the subject line to: readermail (at) jamakimrattigan (dot) com. Giveaway open to U.S. residents only, please. Good Luck!



The lovely and talented Carol Varsalona is hosting the Roundup at Beyond Literacy Link. Drop by to check out the full menu of poetic goodness being shared around the blogosphere this week. Take care, be well, eat pie, and have a good holiday weekend.


Copyright © 2020 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.


51 thoughts on “[review + giveaway] Illusions: Poetry & Art for the Young At Heart by Charles Ghigna and Chip Ghigna

  1. Swoon! Charles and Chip are dynamic duo. I am really taken with Chip’s illustrations. I love the idea that creativity is “all about accessing one’s inner child”. Makes me feel justified in my wee ways. ; )

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Jama, you have allowed me to go to an imaginary place of peace while reading your beautiful post. I do enjoy Charles’ inspiring poetry and have now been introduced to Chip’s whimsical artwork. Both take me on an imaginary trip through nature. Their new book looks like it will open the world of art and poetry to children as well. Thank you for sharing all of this poetic goodness with us. Enjoy your weekend.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much, Irene! You certainly know about that kind of labor of love. Your beautiful family shares in that “special experience” with every one of your new books! Chip and I are proud to share the Alabama sunshine with you!


  3. Thank you for sharing this book and these poems. I think children will love the rhythm and rhyme and the fun of reading these out loud. The figures in the artwork seem inspired by Giacometti sculptures.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I feel so much better now. Like yoga in a book. Thank you, and congratulations, Charles and Chip!
    And thank you, Jama, for this post that goes far beyond the page.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Hi Jama, I’ve waited a long time; my local favorite Indie is swamped, a good thing, but it now takes a while to get books. I just yesterday received my copy of this special book from Charles & Chip, & just started reading it, so don’t put me in the drawing! You’ve shared some beautiful parts here. I always love Charles’ poetry & the paintings he shares of Chip’s, too. How wonderful that this father & son have the pleasure of collaboration. I love that tree – much love to trees seems to have emerged recently! And “Dream, and then make it so.” Thanks for a great post & happy weekend!

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I just read Michelle K’s comment about the hungry girls at the top of your blog—I thought it was a dill pickle spear! Whatever it is, Jama, I love it. I also love that Charles and Chip have published a book together. I’m sure I’m not the only one who felt it was a long time coming! ILLUSIONS looks wonderful. I especially loved Charles “Life’s an Illustion” and Chip’s “Thinking Tree” and “Tall Tales.”

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m with you on the pickle spear, Michelle. Also agree this book was a long time coming — they’re a natural team, and hopefully they’ll do more books together.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. This looks like a lovely complementary combination of poetry and visual art, and how wonderful that it’s by a father-son duo :).

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I sit here in awe of your post here today, Jama. Your blog is simply one of the best, most uplifting, poetic things anywhere to be found online. It is Nirvana for an author to find one of their books reviewed on your heavenly blog. To paraphrase Wendy Wahman, “it’s like yoga” in words. Thank you for taking time to lovingly read and write about Illusions. Chip Ghigna and I are grateful to you for opening our world to yours and sharing it with others.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Always a pleasure to feature your work, Charles. Good to see the “Ghigna boys” finally teaming up (more, please!). Thanks for the kind words.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. What a gorgeous post, what a good job of reviewing this Ghigna collaboration! Th book looks a true treasure! Thank you so much for sharing…

    Liked by 2 people

  10. What a beautiful, beautiful work of art. I’m just blown away by the collaborative efforts of father and son. Many, many congratulations. How wonderful for you both to be able to produce this book together. I think I now need a collection of Chip Ghinga tree art….no, I know I do! I’m looking forward to sharing this book with lots of kids. Thanks for the beautiful review. I’m sold!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much, Linda! We appreciate your comments. Thanks, too, for your interest in Chip’s tree art! He just post a new series of his “Organica” paintings on his website at ChipGhigna.com. If you stroll down the main page, you will also see different headings to click on. There’s also several more of his line drawings (like these from Illusions) under the section titled “Graphics.”


  11. Congratulations, Charles & Chip! I’ve been enjoying the sneak-peeks and updates on FB, but it’s wonderful to see so much more here…it’s beautiful in words and images. You both should be very proud, my friend! And thank you, Jama, for helping them show off this work of art to the world!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Matt! It was a true joy to work (play!) on this one with Chip — and a privilege to work with you on our new book coming this fall! It’s been fun following your many successes over the past few years. Your talent and dedication to children’s literature is admirable. Can’t wait to see what comes next from the fine Esenwine mind!


  12. Oh wow Jama – what a beautiful book from a talented duo. Thank you for the insights. That image of the swan being moved like a magician’s magnet is especially clever.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Glorious – I need to get my hands on this beautiful collaboration. Honored to know Charles and to be a fan of his work for years, and I’ve loved Chip’s work through Charles’s sharing through the years, too. A celebration on many levels – thanks for sharing, Jama! (…& great Wordsworth nod, there.) (Vitual) hugs all around.

    Liked by 2 people

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