When we launched our bimonthly theme on Books about Books and the River of Words, I knew that I had to find this lovely compilation of poetry as selected by one of our absolute favorite poets, Lee Bennett Hopkins, I am the Book with illustrations by Yayo. It was a thrill to find the book in our public library here in Singapore. Poetry Friday this week is hosted by Ed De Caria from Think Kid, Think!
This gorgeous book is a collection of 13 poems celebrating the beauty of losing one’s self in the pages of a book. This compilation begins with the lyrical sound a Quiet Morning makes with “dog, book, and me” by Karen B. Winnick. The reader is then urged to Wonder Through the Pages by Karla Kuskin as one blinks and flips and dives and asks What was that? (by Rebecca Kai Dotlich).
The reader also gets to have a sense of exactly what happens When I Read (by Beverly McLoughland) – whether it be about swashbuckling Pirates (by Jill Corcoran) or damsels in distress. If you’re wondering what happens to a forgotten book half buried under the sand while in the beach, then you’d find that out through Michele Krueger’s Paperback Plunder. Lee Bennett Hopkins also invites the reader to take a sip from a crystalline cup of hot tea as it is Poetry Time, while Jane Yolen plays around with “humming/ thrumming/ drumming/ strumming” “orchestra of sounds” in her A Poem Is.
Kristine O’Connell George reminds the reader that all we need is a “great new book to read” hence Don’t Need a Window Seat while Avis Harley rhapsodizes about This Book which is “just right -/ I’m reading by flashlight deep into the night.” I can remember a book or two that made me feel this way. In I am the Book by Tom Robert Shields, the reader hears a plea, a “spring-seedling” whisper in the pages as “I am the book/ you are needing.”
What I especially loved about the book (apart from its theme that speaks to my heart) is that there is also a very clear flow as the poem-story is woven together from Quiet Morning towards the perfect finish to the anthology with our Poetry Friday friend, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s Book: “Closing the cover/ I sigh -/ Good-bye, Friend.” The artwork by Yayo is positively inspired and a perfect match to the cadence of the words perfectly suited to each line that one hears an audible click in the reading. My absolute favorite, though, would be the poem by Naomi Shihab Nye (another favorite here in GatheringBooks) entitled Who’s Rich? as it reminds me of exactly how I feel whenever I look at the books lying in my shelves. I hope you enjoy this one, dear Poetry Friday friends.
Naomi Shihab Nye
The boy with a book he hasn’t read yet.
The girl with a tower of books by her bed.
She opens and opens and opens.
Her life starts everywhere.
Anyone befriended again & again
by a well-loved book.
This is a wealth
we never lose.
I am the Book. Poems Selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins and Illustrated by Yayo. Holiday House, New York, 2011. Book borrowed from the public library. Book photos taken by me. All illustrations are copyright of the illustrator, Yayo.