Keep a poem in your pocket
and a picture in your head
and you’ll never feel lonely
at night when you’re in bed.
~ Beatrice Schenk de Regniers (“Keep a Poem in Your Pocket”)
So begins J. Patrick Lewis’s brand new poetry picture book, in which he pairs 13 classic poems on a variety of subjects with his own inventive parodies. Beatrice Schenk de Regnier’s opening poem sets the tone by touting the delights of the imagination, while Lewis’s poetic response (“Keep a Pocket in Your Poem”) advises us to think up wondrous, concrete objects (“red hawk feather,/silver penny, pinkie ring”) to spark the creative process.
In his introduction, Lewis explains that writing a parody is the best way to pay tribute to someone else’s work. He’s clearly a poet who likes to tweak, twist and tinker — not only with words, but with ideas, thoughts, and emotions.
As old poem faces off against new, it’s interesting to see the different directions Lewis has taken as he echoes, mimics, and counters. With this side by side format, young readers are given great examples of how one might imitate a well-known poem, whether they choose to express a similar sentiment (Lewis’s “Winter Warmth” in response to Langston Hughes’s “Winter Sweetness”), or contrast the original (Lewis’s “Rats” vs. Rose Flyeman’s “Mice,” or Lewis’s “Hail” vs Carl Sandburg’s “Fog”).
Once upon a time there were four little Rabbits —
and their names were Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-tail and Peter.
They lived with their Mother in a sand-bank, underneath the root of a very big fir-tree.
‘Now my dears,’ said old Mrs. Rabbit one morning, ‘you may go into the fields or down the lane, but don’t go into Mr. McGregor’s garden: your Father had an accident there; he was put in a pie by Mrs. McGregor.’
So begins the story of Peter Rabbit, the most beloved bunny in children’s literature. It’s likely this charming tale will be enjoyed during family Easter celebrations on both sides of the pond this weekend.
Refreshments may include blackberries and milk, currant buns, lettuces, radishes, parsley and camomile tea. Other favorite Potter characters such as Benjamin Bunny, Tom Kitten, Jemima Puddle-duck, and Mrs. Tiggy-winkle may also get their fair share of attention, but what about Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley?
Well, it’s time you knew (if you don’t already). 🙂
Rawnsley wrote the “other” Tale of Peter Rabbit. Yes, there actually was another version. And it was written in verse!
Mmmmmm! Don’t mean to make you jealous (yes, I do!), but I’ve got a pot of black-eyed peas simmering on the stove.
Just a little while ago, I fried a little bacon (oh, yes!), put it aside, then sautéed some chopped onion and celery in the drippings. After the onion and celery were happy-happy, I added them to my pot of pre-soaked peas (hello). Now everybody’s gently bubbling together until it’s time to serve them up. Stick around, cause I’ll share a bowl with you right after I tell you about this delectable new picture book.
Debut author/illustrator Rachel Himes has cooked up some plucky mouthwatering magic in Princess and the Peas (Charlesbridge, 2017), a 50’s spin-off of the classic fairy tale.
But don’t expect a hyper-sensitive princess or a pile of mattresses in a faraway kingdom. Himes takes us straight to Charleston County, South Carolina where food, family, and love reign supreme.
#54 in an ongoing series of posts celebrating the alphabet
Few things are more delightful than discovering good alphabet books, and by “good,” I mean those that have original hooks, are a little quirky, do justice to the tricky letters ‘q’ ‘x’, and ‘z’, and compel me to take a second and third look. Because there are so many alphabet books out there already, creators have to be extra clever and innovative. Here’s one that celebrates pasta under the big top, and another that’s alphabetically effusive in ways too numerous to count.
Juana Medina admits she ate a lot of pasta while making ABC Pasta: An Entertaining Alphabet (Viking, 2017). What could be better than an alphabet good enough to eat?! Love the circus theme and meeting all 26 of the perky performers, who gambol, juggle, race, pirouette, and cavort through the pages with the greatest of ease.
Medina created them using real photographs of pasta-related foods incorporated into zesty digital drawings, and they are introduced with temptingly toothsome alliterative phrases, fun-to-read tongue twisters that are quite a mouthful.
Roll out the red carpet and get ready to curtsy: The QUEEN has just landed and she’s brought TEA!
If you’re thinking this new picture book has my name written all over it, you’re absolutely right. I will try my best to maintain a reasonable sense of decorum for the duration of this post, but as you can imagine, it will take every ounce of restraint I possess. Because TEA. QUEEN. ENGLAND. ADVENTURE. TOP HAT, MUSTACHE! All my favorite things!
*deep breath . . .*
That sound you hear in the background is the joyous clinking of tiny teacups in honor of Kate Hosford and Gabi Swiatkowska, a picture book team made in Assam heaven. In How the Queen Found the Perfect Cup of Tea (Carolrhoda Books, 2017), it is evident their whimsical tea-loving sensibilities are in perfect sync.
We first meet HRH one morning while she’s being dressed and coiffed by four maids. A haughty one is this Queen, she with the sour expression and wild hair. Every morning, her mustached butler James prepares her tea, and each day “her tea started to taste a bit worse.” Yes, she has a meltdown.
James, she yelled.
This tea is horrible!
She decides right then and there that she “must find the perfect cup of tea.” So off they go on a queenly quest to faraway lands via hot air balloon.