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FOREST HAS A SONG

Page history last edited by RichiesPicks 7 years, 4 months ago

2 February 2013 FOREST HAS A SONG by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater and Robbin Gourley, ill., Clarion, March 2013, 40p., ISBN: 978-0-618-843497

 

"Forest News

I stop to read

the Forest News

in mud or fallen snow,

Articles are printed

by critters on the go.

 

Foxes pass.

Deer run through.

Turkeys scratch

for hidden food.

Young raccoons

drink sips of creek.

Mouse and hawk

play hide and seek.

Here a possum

whiskery-wild

climbs a tree trunk

with her child.

And in this place

while people sleep

a rabbit hops.

A housecat creeps.

 

Scribbled hints

in footprints

tell about the day.

I stop to read

the Forest News

before it's worn away."

 

Early in the morning, here on a Saturday in Sebastopol, it is foggy and chilly and relatively quiet. Just a crow complaining in the distance about something or other.

 

It is pretty conducive to my transporting myself back to one of those early Saturday mornings, many decades ago, when I shivered a bit as we walked through a damp woods on the east coast; the pungent smell of rotting leaves and fungi thick in the air; the remaining snow lying in patches in the shelter of trees; a few squirrels observing our wanderings along a trail.

 

That is where this book takes me.

 

There are times that I take great joy in having, so far, gotten to experience everything from an early childhood of ancient black and white television to this bold new era when I teach library students in several countries without leaving my home.

 

But then, on the other hand, I've recently been exposed to an overload of little children playing video games that are designed for teaching soldiers how to kill. And cavernous marketplaces filled with plastic everythings. And now, forty-something years after Joni Mitchell sat in a Manhattan hotel room and wrote about our having to get back to the Garden (of Eden -- not the nearby Madison Square one), I am thinking and fussing about how we, as librarians, can help create a little bit of balance, a little bit of peace and sanity in our little corners of the planet, by exposing our young patrons and their parents to books like FOREST HAS A SONG, an exceptionally beautiful book of poetry filled with whimsical verse and images about the outdoors that are soothing my soul on this relatively quiet morning.

 

I'm a big fan of Robbin Gourley's watercolor illustrations, and I really like how she has visualizes this collection of VanDerwater's poems about traipsing through the woods. A girl and her dog are clearly at home in this forest where they encounter pinecones, and chickadees and trilobites; fiddleheads, and lichen and Lady's Slippers. I really like Gourley's provision of white space, permitting my eyes a place to rest amidst the shadows of trees as I quietly reflect on the poems and images.

 

"Bone Pile

I wonder

were you someone's meal?

I wonder

were you old?

I wonder

did you freeze to death

last winter

in the cold?

I wonder

how you'd tell the tale.

I wonder

if you could.

I wonder

who will bury you?

I wonder

if I should."

 

FOREST HAS A SONG ends with a Farewell poem, in which the Forest whispers to the girl that she should remember her. This is a fitting conclusion for this very beautiful and memorable collection of poems.

 

Richie Partington, MLIS
Richie's Picks http://richiespicks.com
BudNotBuddy@aol.com
Moderator http://groups.yahoo.com/group/middle_school_lit/

http://slisweb.sjsu.edu/people/faculty/partingtonr/partingtonr.php

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