Greetings, Poetry Lovers!
Perhaps you had the good fortune as I did this week to attend a virtual treat: the online book launch of WELCOME TO THE WONDER HOUSE, a gorgeous picture book with poems by Rebecca Kai Dotlich and Georgia Heard and illustrations by Deborah Freedman. It's hot off the press from WordSong, which is now an imprint of Astra Books for Young Readers.
[*UPDATE*: Deborah Freedman kindly sent a link to the recorded launch on YouTube - you can watch it HERE!]
The online launch included an inspiring discussion moderated by the amazing Betsy Bird with Rebecca, Georgia, Deborah, and WordSong Editorial Director Rebecca M. Davis. Attendees got peeks inside writer journals and illustrator sketchbooks, and it was fun to hear how verbal and visual ideas grew and flourished into final works.
If you didn't catch the discussion, by all means catch the book! It's one of those rare combinations of exquisite and accessible. The reader is welcomed into different rooms, beginning with the "ROOM of CURIOSITY" and ending with the "ROOM of WISHES." There are rooms for ordinary things, creatures, time, quiet, and mystery, to name a few more.
One of Rebecca's poems, in the ROOM of NATURE, begins this way:
Beneath a trillion leaves,
cloud-braided with sky,
my feet balance on a tangle
of puzzled roots in a wilderness of secrets, ...
and Georgia begins one of the poems in the ROOM of PLACE like this:
Puzzle-shaped continents and islands
circled by swirls of blue ocean,
turn on this globe I cradle in my hand. ...
Their poems take us from the tragic end of the dinosaurs to exhilarating considerations of planets and moons, and to the deep wonders of our hearts and minds.
Deborah Freedman's mixed media art is simply glorious. In the talk, she mentioned her training as an architect, and crisp lines and amazing details confirm this skill set. Plus, you might find yourself gazing at blueprints and architectural seals (those official-looking round stamp impressions)! This is a book you'll want to enjoy with or without its dustjacket and definitely with its endpapers. The precision in places in no way makes the pictures cold or too technical, though - flowing, graduated colors, surprise elements and compositions, and a winsome little animal here or there beckon us to enjoy it all.
I can imagine this book as a special gift for about a zillion occasions. If you order one for this purpose, just make sure to order an extra copy to keep - it's one that children and adults will want to return to, revealing new secrets with each read.
Learn more about Georgia Heard here, Rebecca Kai Dotlich here, Deborah Freedman here, and Rebecca M. Davis and WordSong here. Many thanks to Betsy Bird for another exceptional visit with children's book creators!
And in case you don't know, Rebecca and Georgia put on some mighty fine poetry workshops... well worth attending if you're so inclined.
The multi-talented Linda Mitchell, a student of wonder herself, has our Roundup this week at A Word Edgewise. Thank you, Linda!