by Lee Bennett Hopkins
illus. Frané Lessac
This joyous collection of 21 original poems, written between the early ’70s and the present, deftly depicts a sense of delight and wonder in everyday experience. Hopkins brings freshness and immediacy to his subjects, whether a loose tooth, the city in the hush of snowfall, or summer fruits (“No matter/how/hot-burning/it/is/outside/when/you… cut deep/into/a/fresh, ripe watermelon/coolness/comes/into/your/hands”). Lessac’s (Caribbean Alphabet) energetic illustrations boldly enhance the text; painted in primary hues, their compelling, naive quality seems both childlike and folkloric. Brush stroke dabs suggest, alternately, raindrops scattering from clouds, sparks from a fire, or blades of grass in a park.
While the compositions as a whole are clean and simple, intricate patterns decorate quilts and drapes, plates and packaging. The bright spontaneity of the art pulls the reader into a cheerful city milieu captured throughout the seasons, a world that is matter-of-factly multicultural. An uncluttered layout offers plenty of white space, allowing the luxury of lingering over a page and truly savoring each poem.
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