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).

Beautiful artwork by Yayo

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.

Who’s Rich 
Naomi Shihab Nye

Who’s rich?
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.

Who’s rich?
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.

Picture Book Challenge Update: 125 (120)

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

15 comments on “Poetry Friday: I Am The Book!

  1. It is another one of those books that we cherish, isn’t it? The words, the illustrations, all to savor for us book lovers. Don’t you just love those people peeking out of the book! Thanks Myra.


  2. I adore those people peeking out of the book too! What a lovely post to celebrate this openhearted celebration of our hardcover friends. Thank you for this – I sent the link to Lee too! Happy Poetry Friday!


  3. Hi, Myra. Thank you for sharing the Naomi Shihab Nye poem. What beautiful illustrations. I loved the boy sitting on the tea-tag, as if it were a flying carpet!


  4. What a special book, Myra. And I love the Nye poem – especially the closing lines.


  5. Dear Myra: You surely know how to make a Poetry Friday quite happy. Thank you SO much for this piece. I AM THE BOOK is special to me. Your words warm my heart.
    My very best to you. Happy Poetry-ing! Lee http://www.leebennetthopkins.com


  6. This book is one of my favorites too. Yayo’s artwork is so whimsical, a perfect complement. Nye’s poem is wonderful. Thanks for sharing it today, and my favorite spread in the book — the teapot! 🙂


  7. Thank you for sharing this! I especially enjoy the image inspired by “She opens and opens and opens./Her life starts everywhere.”


  8. This is going on my Santa list!! I know many kids, big and small, who will love this book of fabulous poems!!


  9. This sounds wonderful! Thank you!


  10. This is such a beautiful book–a must-have for book lovers! It feels so intimate and spare and all-encompassing, all at the same time. Beautiful poems and artwork…


  11. Love that art! Makes me want to look up Yayo.


  12. This collection is one of my favorites, too – just timeless! (I love the way LBH organizes his anthologies – so much thought behind the scenes.)

    And I love the poem you picked to share today, Myra. Naomi Shihab Nye is a national treasure.


  13. This is definitely a favorite! And do you know INNER CHIMES? It’s poems about poetry!


  14. I love this anthology, Myra.


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