Beauty, Art, Music in Literature Books Early Readers Genre Lifespan of a Reader Nonfiction Picture Books Poetry Poetry Friday Reading Themes

[Poetry Friday] The Beauty of Imagining A Life Better Than The One You Have

... based on the childhood of US Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera, illuminated by Lauren Castillo

Myra here.

I am delighted to be joining Poetry Friday community this week with this gorgeous picturebook in verse that I learned about through people from the kidlitosphere. Thank you to Elizabeth Steinglass for hosting this week.

In this nonfiction picturebook written in verse, the beauty and power of imagination is unleashed in quiet waves and soft colours, creating a masterpiece that will be read for years to come.


Written by Juan Felipe Herrera Illustrated by Lauren Castillo
Published by Candlewick Press (2018)
ISBN: 076369052X (ISBN13: 9780763690526)
Borrowed from the NIE Library. Book photos taken by me.

Initially, I did not know where the story was leading me, then the refrain

imagine what you could do…

hit me like stars falling from trees.

Based on the childhood of US Poet Laureate, Juan Felipe Herrera, it speaks of what life was like as a young migrant boy unfamiliar with the English language, confronting the “new concrete school” with nothing but his red backpack filled with dreams.

What struck me the most was the hunger for – and affinity with – words unrecognized, ensnared, and “sprinkled” on paper to create imagined narratives and lyrical phrases. There is resilience, grit, determination – and a celebration of that which is beautiful. There is also unremitting faith in what young children can do with everything they have, right here, right now, at this moment.

My Poetry Friday offering today is a Juan Felipe Herrera poem I found in entitled Poem by Poem. I took a screenshot of the poem and edited the image using an iPhone app. Enjoy!

#LitWorld2018GB Update: United States Of America

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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).

8 comments on “[Poetry Friday] The Beauty of Imagining A Life Better Than The One You Have

  1. Liz Steinglass

    What a beautiful, poetic book. Thank you so much for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. laurashovan222

    “Poem by Poem” hit me right in the heart. What a heavy weight our children are carrying today.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love the concept that some poems are made of action. We all have to do what we can to make the world a better, safer place.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh, my goodness. I need this book. Your blog post is powerful about its beauty…..the book looks spectacular. I love the change in a person because of language. It’s so miraculous and special to see and be a part of.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I am beginning to worry that our world is such that a person must be extraordinary to survive. Or maybe we are painfully birthing a world in which everyone gets to be extraordinary and thus survives.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. maryleehahn

    Herrera’s is a beautiful story of resilience and success. I wonder what stories will come from the children who have been separated from their parents or blocked at the US border by current politics?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks for sharing this gorgeous calling out poem of Herrera’s–to hear each slain individual as one–and to bring them back up again. And also for sharing this new book.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. What a beautiful book! Ruth,

    Liked by 1 person

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