Friday, April 17, 2009

A River of Words:

The Story of William Carlos Williams
Written by Jen Bryant
Illustrated by Melissa Sweet
Most enjoyed by poetry lovers of all ages

William Carlos Williams wrote poetry for most of his adult life. Listening to his English teacher read poems aloud reminded him of the river near his home and sparked his love of poetry. Despite becoming a doctor with a busy medical practice, Williams always found time to write poetry. We still enjoy his work today. In fact, his poem 'The Red Wheelbarrow', plays an integral part in the well-loved book 'Love That Dog' by Sharon Creech.

'A River of Words' is a nice introduction for young readers to William Carlos Williams and his poetry, especially for those new to his work. Some of his poems are reproduced on the end pages and worked into the illustrations. Readers will notice the influence of everyday, ordinary objects and experiences on Williams' writing as they read 'This is Just to Say' about eating plums or 'Metric Figure' about a bird in a tree.

While the story of Williams' life is good, it's the illustrations that really enhance the narrative and make the book spectacular. Flipping through the pages created by Melissa Sweet, it's easy to see why it won a 2009 Caldecott Honor award. Done in a collage style, each page features drawings set against a backdrop of papers from old books and notebooks. This makes the book feel as if it's Williams' notebook, crammed full of his notes and observations to be used later in his poems. The result is a book that can be looked at over and over, each time revealing something new to the reader.

A perfect title for poetry month, 'A River of Words' is a joy to read. If you're new to William Carlos Williams, choose this title to become familiar with him, but if you've enjoyed Williams' poetry in the past, enjoy it anew with this beautiful book.

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