Look! Just what we all need: a new BLUE book!
Yep, this one’s got my name written all over it, and I simply had to share it with you today.
Safe to say, most, if not all of us — young, old, somewhere in-between — have a crazy-making case of the pandemic blues. It may come and go, but some dark shade of it always seems to linger in the back of our minds. Or maybe we just have the blahs, feel bored or uninspired (confinement can do that to you). No better time to banish the ho-hums and embrace the unique power, beauty, and wonder of blue. 🙂
In I’m Feeling Blue, Too!, a poetry picture book written by Marjorie Maddox and illustrated by Philip Huber (Resource Publications, 2020), a young boy celebrates the essence of blue, discovering its presence in the world around and within him.
A sequence of 13 poems drives the narrative, which takes place on a summer’s day from morning to night. The opening poem is a wake-up call for all:
got those summertime slumps,
Time to get up
and shake up
Time to get the “can’t-do-nothin’” out of blue.
Time to zap the sad
with some kaleidoscope clues.
Come on, whistle for Blue
and get moving!
Get ready. Get set. Guess blue!
Who wouldn’t be cheered and motivated by such upbeat, toe-tapping, finger-snapping, alliterative, (and yes!) bluesy lines? And how much do I love that the dog’s name is Blue? 🙂
We follow our young explorer as he searches for those “kaleidoscope clues,” an open invitation for the reader to join him as he dons a “color of cozy” sweater and eats blueberry pancakes and muffins for breakfast (“yum that hits your stomach with a happy sigh”), before venturing outside for “Legs like springs,/arms like wings” bouncing on the trampoline, where he grabs a piece of sky.
Awake yet? BLAST OFF BLUE!
Next it’s time to contemplate the majesty of the ocean by diving right in and riding “the waves of wet wonder.” We’re reminded not to be fooled by those clear drops of water, as,
This liquid’s a magician
that grabs the sky’s hue
and turns miles of moisture
into the true blue of fun.
Yeah, I’m all in!
There are quieter moments too, taking the time to be still and appreciate the natural world: a bouquet of blue blossoms, a bluebird whose whistle “sings spring,/sings sky” while delivering “another sweet treat of crickets, mulberries, and bees” to its nestlings, or listening to the “voice” of a dragonfly whose “flutter flaps summer,/and hums to the blue firs/and strums with cicadas.” Simply bluetiful!
It’s fitting that the boy squirts a tube of blue paint all over, listing the many blue things he could create with his art (butterflies, bluegills, blue jeans, cold lips, sapphire, moonlight), since the color blue is often associated with inspiration, expansiveness, imagination and creativity.
Extending this theme even more, the boy’s building blocks might inspire a structure requiring precision, patience, weighing and wondering. We see the value of envisioning, considering the possibilities and consequences as he builds a castle of dreams, a good chance to ponder what kind of life he might fashion for himself.
As night falls, the boy is under the covers, flashlight in hand, as he imagines “steel-blue knights” attacking “nightmarish dragons,” delivering “castles and kingdoms from fiery doom.”
Oh, the magic of creative play, the endless adventures that await as we drift into sleep laden dreamworlds “across landscapes of make-believe!”
You may be surprised to hear that for this book, the pictures came first. Huber actually created the first version of this book while still a college student. Many years later, as a college art professor, he decided to use scratchboard for the illustrations, and then asked Marjorie Maddox, his colleague at Lock Haven University, to help him with the text.
So for Marjorie, this was largely an ekphrastic project, as she wrote a series of poems to capture the energy, exuberance, playfulness, beauty, and various moods of Philip’s pictures, each one a masterwork of incredible line work, detail, texture, and of course, various shades of gorgeous blue.
Marjorie’s poems are a joy to read aloud with their jaunty rhythms, wordplay, pleasing cadences, sensory detail, and clever use of poetic devices such as alliteration, assonance, rhyme, and onomatopoeia. Readers and budding writers will love the variety of poetic forms, especially the concrete poems: mini word morsels resembling blueberries floating on air, a poem shaped like a large blossom/bouquet featuring the scientific names of blue flowers (with another poem hidden within).
The bluebird and dragonfly companion poems are lyrical gems, while the paint splat list poem, with words randomly scattered across the page, mimics the drops of splashed paint in the illustration. And what about the trampoline poem, the boy bouncing high into the sky? It contains words that literally rise above their lines! It’s a too-much-fun, up and down, down and up, bouncy blast. 🙂
I’m Feeling Blue, Too! is a fabulous mentor text for poets of all ages who’d like to explore their own favorite colors, in concrete or abstract form, word painting real and/or imagined worlds in which to dwell.
Score a copy of this book soon if you’d like to taste a morsel of midnight, wear you favorite shade of warmth, bounce high to the azure sky, travel in a bubble, float into an ocean of fantasy. When you fully embrace blue, you can swim in it, hear the hum and whistle of it, breathe in the fragrance of it, feel creatively empowered by it, or dwell in its high fantasy night. Feeling blue, inside and out, from here to there, and back again.
Now how’s that for a case of the feel-good blues? Bye bye doldrums. 🙂
Yes, I know, you’re still thinking about those blueberries.
TRUE BLUE BLUEBERRY CRUMB BARS
Seriously, after seeing the boy’s blueberry elation (arms high in the air, eyes crazed with anticipation), how could we not satisfy our blueberry cravings?
Mr Cornelius and Blue Bear decided on Blueberry Crumb Bars — easy, stackable, portable, totally yummy, and most important, approved by our favorite doctor. 🙂
After they had fun playing with the blueberries — rolling them hither and yon, tossing them to each other, bowling with them, balancing them on their heads, etc., they set to work.
Easy as pie, it was just a matter of tossing fresh blueberries with a little sugar, fresh lemon juice and cornstarch for the filling. The same dough is used for the shortbread-like base and crumbly topping, then it’s about 35 minutes in the oven, and voilà!
Now you can feel blue and eat it too. 🙂
Blueberry Crumb Bars
- 1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 1 egg
- 2 cups fresh blueberries
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1-1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
- First, prepare your blueberry filling. In a small bowl, gently toss together the fresh blueberries, sugar, lemon juice and cornstarch. Set aside, then preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Grease an 8″ x 8″ baking pan.
- With an electric mixer, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, butter and egg. Mix until the dough is moist but still crumbly. Divide the dough in half, and press one half into the prepared pan to make the crust.
- Pour the blueberry filling mixture over the crust, then sprinkle the rest of the crumbly dough over the blueberries.
- Bake for about 35 minutes, or until the juices are bubbling and the dough has browned a bit (do not over-brown and let the crust dry out).
- Cool completely before cutting and eating.
~ Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
I’M FEELING BLUE, TOO!
written by Marjorie Maddox
illustrated by Philip Huber
published by Resource Publications, August 2020
Poetry Picture Book for ages 5+, 34 pp.
♥️ Enjoy this video of Marjorie (looking lovely in blue) reading from the book:
The wee-sourceful and weely talented Bridget Magee is hosting the Roundup at wee words for wee ones. Waltz on over to check out the full menu of poetic goodness being shared around the blogosphere this week. Stay safe, strong, and be well. Have a good weekend!
*Interior spreads from I’m Feeling Blue, Too, text copyright © 2020 Marjorie Maddox, illustrations © 2020 Philip Huber, published by Resource Publications. All rights reserved.
**Copyright © 2020 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.