On a trip to the zoo, young Jonathan returns a lost hat to Marianne, a woman who wears all black and scribbles notes on a little book. When Marianne invites him to tour the zoo with her, Jonathan makes a new friend and learns that he too can write poetry. With lighthearted illustrations and a poetically told story, this picture book about poet Marianne Moore offers readers a glimpse of the writing process and their own potential to become writers. Recommended for ages 6 and up.
With lighthearted illustrations and a poetically told story, this picture book biography of poet Marianne Moore offers readers a glimpse of the writing process and their own potential to become writers. Full color.
Gr 2-4-Bryant has created a fictional chance encounter between a boy and an
elderly Marianne Moore as they ride a Brooklyn bus to the zoo in the 1940s.
While Moore is the focus of the story, Jonathan is the narrator, and his words
have a poetic quality. The poet's hat looks like "a piece of black cloth or a
shingle that's blown off a roof" and the words she has written in her journal
"line up in rows like obedient soldiers." Moore points out, "I see that you
and I think alike," a statement that refers to more than just the fact that
they both chose the same Saturday destination. Jonathan asks, "What, exactly,
does a poet do?" and Moore explains that her work begins by watching, writing
words down, and rearranging them to sound just right. While this description
may be accurate, children may not understand exactly what it means. The
mottled and muted watercolor illustrations lend a soft, nostalgic feel to the
book and complement the story's quiet tone. While this title may be helpful
to introduce children to the process of poetry and, to a lesser degree, the
poet, this tale is too slight and subdued to appeal to a general
audience.-Carol L. MacKay, Camrose Public Library, Alberta, Canada Copyright
2006 Reed Business Information.
Bryant (The Trial) introduces Marianne Moore, the mid-20th-century poet, via
her encounter with Jonathan, a New York city boy, who rescues the woman's
trademark tri-cornered hat on the way to a lizard exhibit at the zoo.
Johnson's (On Sand Island) watercolor compositions underscore narrator
Jonathan's perceptions of both Moore and the animals he sees. Having exchanged
names, the two look at the lizards; Moore scribbles notes, and the boy asks
about her occupation: "What, exactly, does a poet do?" For Moore's answer,
Johnson zooms in on the poet's face, framed by her extraordinary hat. Strands
of silvery hair fly about her ears, and her lined features are set in
thought. "For me," she says, "being a poet begins/ with watching." She
describes her methods and shows him drafts of poems in her notebook. "Does it
take a long time?" he asks. "This one took me nearly a year!" she says, then
shows him another. "But this one took me only a few hours./ Every poem is
different-just like those lizards." In thanks for her hat, Moore gives the boy
a notebook and whispers, "You could write poetry." Bryant conveys a glimpse of
the creative process in language young readers can grasp. Johnson's artwork, a
little like the poetry of Moore herself, is formal, muted in color yet always
lively; his watercolors capture the animals as capably as the human
interactions. Ages 6-up. (Feb.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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