Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Monday, April 23, 2012

By Heart

By definition an anthology is a collection of selected literary pieces or passages (Merriam Webster).  It's very nature is dependent upon the theme of the compiler.  How fortunate for readers Forget-Me-Nots:  Poems to Learn by Heart (Little, Brown and Company) were selected by Mary Ann Hoberman, author, poet and recipient of the Children's Poet Laureate.  As in the You Read To Me, I'll Read To You series her collaborator is renowned illustrator, Michael Emberley.

Hoberman's opening line in the introduction states a profound truth.

When you learn a poem by heart, it becomes a part of you.

She further explains this, so all can grasp her intent for starting with that statement.  She continues by commenting why certain poems were selected for this book; they are memorable.  Defining memorable with two distinctive meanings brings readers to a greater understanding of the purpose for this collection of more than 120 poems. 

A Poem for the Reader by Mary Ann Hoberman, twenty lines of lyrical rhythm, sends readers down the poetry road with a spring in their step and soul.  Eleven subsequent categories are named:
The Short Of It, One And All, Beautiful Beasts, Delicious Dishes, It's About Time, Happiness Is, Weather And Seasons, Sad And Sorrowful, Strange And Mysterious, Poems From Storybooks and The Long Of It.  Each heading is followed by a short description of what readers can expect to read.

Eighty-eight authors' vivid, valid verses form this book; all but three of the groupings contain gems by Hoberman herself, a true treasure trove.  Love That Boy by Walter Dean Myers, Chums by Arthur Guiterman, Bat Patrol by Georgia Heard, The Little Turtle by Vachel Lindsay, Eletelephony by Laura E. Richards, Raw Carrots by Valerie Worth, Hurry by Eve Merriam, The Days Have Names by JonArno Lawson, Toad by the Road by Joanne Ryder, Things by Eloise Greenfield, The Arrow and the Song by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Song of the Train by David McCord, The Secret Song by Margaret Wise Brown and The Old Haunted House by Judith Viorst gives you a brief but delightful taste of the extent of offerings.  A full range of poets and their poems is presented; perfect for committing to memory.

Two pages of excellent suggestions by Hoberman for learning poetry by heart follow the selections.  An index of first lines and acknowledgements precede the final page of title information.

How appropriate that an elephant, their memories documented for longevity, is displayed on the cover with happy, speaking children perched cozily on trunk, foot and head.  Making an appearance throughout the table of contents, and closing pages this elephant ties everything in-between together.  Using pencil, watercolor and pastel on watercolor papers, Michael Emberley brings an added interpretation to the works with his lively illustrations.

With his light touch, varied color palettes and keen sense of humor one poem is tied to another by single elements blending across a page or a full graphic across two pages binds them together.  On one page readers see an enormous hippo facing to the right off the page, eyes glancing backward, holding an open book.  Within the body are two poems, To His Cat by Doris Orgel and Hippopotamus by Mary Ann Hoberman.  By gazing down at the hippo's seated bottom it is then we see four legs and a few whiskers peeking from beneath the giant.

The full page view of a horse's bespectacled face as it calmly munches a carrot with the poem running down its nose, at a second glance noticing the bird outside the night window gagged and bound so morning will be peaceful, a pink-finned, rocketed car that anyone would want to drive, the expressions on the different bears depicting the Weather And Seasons title page, and the dark, spooky double page spread for the Strange And Mysterious heading are some of my absolute favorite visuals.  Emberley knows how to seek and find beyond the obvious.  Pictures, like his, that not only compliment but enhance are magical.

Forget-Me-Nots:  Poems to Learn by Heart selected by Mary Ann Hoberman, illustrated by Michael Emberley is a title to be relished any time of the year but in April it's indispensable. There's plenty here to help celebrate Poem In Your Pocket Day.

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