4 Amazing Picture Books About Poets
Celebrating Poetry Month!
Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People by Monica Brown, illustrated by Julie Paschkis
This has to be one of my favorite covers. I love the artwork and the visual of the words in the tree and flowing through the beautiful green and blue, all at the fingertips of Pablo Neruda, poet of the people. When you open the book, you will find captivating text and more illustrations that will capture the mind of the young reader. Neruda’s words are woven throughout the illustrations, evoking the play of language and love of words that readers find in Pablo Neruda’s poems. Neruda won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971. After Neruda’s death, Yevgeny Yevtushenko wrote
“….he carries his poetry to the people
as simply and calmly
as a loaf of bread.”
This line became the inspiration for the title of Monica Brown’s book. Readers will be inspired to continue reading his poetry and learn more about his life. The illustrations are memorable – the colors are bright and engaging, and they celebrate people! A perfect introduction to Pablo Neruda, a poet that speaks to so many around the world.
This is the story of a young girl and her quiet, reclusive neighbor, the poet Emily Dickinson. One day, the girl brings a gift of lily bulbs to the poet and is given a poem in return. While the story is fictional, this unassuming tale will impress you with its language and sparse beauty. The illustrations speak to the mood of the story and bring life to the words without detracting or overwhelming the language. Readers will find quiet examples of alliteration, metaphor, rhyme, imagery, personification, echoing so many of the literary techniques that Dickinson masterfully employed in her own poetry. All told with through the voice of a child, the point of view adds to both the subtlety and power of the story.
Magical. The illustrations are beautiful, incorporating language and collages in a way that will interest the reader and bring together the poetry and words of ee cummings in a new light. This picture book incorporates some of cummings own poems in the story, which of course makes it an excellent introduction to his life and work. The poems also give a sense of his voice, which is even more powerful when surrounded by Matthew Burgess’ words and the illustrations of Kris Di Giacomo. Of course elephants are part of this book, as well as “birds who are the secret of living.” Readers will discover that the images and metaphors in the poems are engaging and accessible for readers to connect, discuss and enjoy.
The pairing of the dreamer and the concept of home is woven together in the story of Langston Hughes, one of the greatest African-American poets whose words still speak to readers today. This book is a perfect companion for introducing readers to the poetry of Langston Hughes, giving an appropriate and accurate historical context to his life and the time period in which he lived. The tale is one of home, an easily identifiable concept and theme in so many of Hughes’ works. The concepts of loneliness, happiness, freedom, overcoming obstacles, achieving the seemingly impossible dreams. Readers will quickly recognize the parallel themes and connected ideas found in Hughes’ poems, such as “Theme for English B,” “I, Too,” “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” and “Dream Variations,” all easily paired with this picture book.
Neruda, Dickinson, Cummings, Hughes. Fabulous poets to read and share! What are your favorite picture books about poets?