Sunday, April 19, 2009

Red Sings from Treetops: a year in colors by Joyce Sidman and Pamela Zagarenski

I have been inspired by Joyce Sidman to get back to what I love doing best - reading brilliant children's literature and raving about it to any unfortunate who happens to become snared in the dense thicket of the kid-lit blogging bush.
There are a lot of poems about color out there and I am sure that practically any elementary-aged child in the English-speaking world has had to write one. It's pretty easy and has a low-risk level (unlike my cat - long story). However, like most things that are pretty easy to do, they are really hard to do well.
I have spent many an early morning and late evening in my yard trying to think of an opening line for a poem about a cardinal. When you live in the northern regions of this fair land, the sight of a cardinal's scarlet plumage against eye-searing-white snow is sometimes the only hope you have that the world is still turning and you're not stuck in this frozen wasteland forever. Don't get me wrong, winter is beautiful when it first comes and everything is clean white,
"White dazzles day
and turns night
inside out."
But, at a certain point, you need to see green.
Luckily for me, Sidman knows this, too and she's got a magical touch with words. It's like she got inside my heart - because, truly, that's where poetry germinates - and translated it in to these beautiful poems - because, truly, that's what the poets you love do.
"And Red?
Red beats inside me:
Sidman is frugal but never meagre with her words. They take on the exact shape, smell, and feel of the season's passing colors. The verses are short but complete and leave pleanty of room for the stunning art work of Zagarenski. Verse and picture blend seemlessly together. Zagarenski never tries to "outcolor" the poems, and her palate is rich and delicious just when it needs to be. Zagarenski also illustrated Sidman's This is Just to Say: Poems of Apology and Forgiveness and the same crowned and whimsically dressed figures run through these pages. The cardinal is ever present with his own crimson crown and a dog follows along, too. Each page tells a story and I discover something new every time I read the book.
Luckily for us, Sidman and Zagarenski know how to make a simple thing look and sound stunningly difficult.


Mary Lee said...

Welcome back! Long time, no read!

Bibliovore said...

Welcome back to the bush! And the book sounds great too.