Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams

This Caldecott Honor book by Jen Bryant is one of the most beautiful I've ever seen. The cover gives only the barest hint of the luminous artwork within, and even that artistry is taken to a completely different plane by the addition of Williams' beautiful words.

In spare language, the book tells the story of William Carlos Williams, his early life and the everyday things that inspired his poetry. The illustrations are snippets of his poems, embellished and illumined by Melissa Sweet's gorgeous collages and watercolors. I can't say enough about how visually stunning this book is. You can go here and click Google Preview, but even that isn't going to give you more than the tiniest taste.

A book like this belongs in classrooms -- it's perfect for 3rd, 4th, even 5th and 6th grade. Williams' poetry is very accessible -- it's everyday stuff, celebrated in direct and beautiful language. For those who have trouble "getting" poetry, a book like this gives them another dimension, another sense from which to approach it.

Perhaps because I was an English teacher, this kind of book makes me dizzy with delight. Anything that marries beautiful words with beautiful pictures in such a harmonious way...what can I say.....they had me at 'Hello.'

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