Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Changes: A child's first poetry collection by Charlotte Zolotow, illustrated by Tiphanie Beeke

I usually am not much of a poetry fan, but this galley (which was accidentally sent to our cataloger from whom I stole it) had eye-catching pictures and I couldn't resist it.

This is a new edition presenting 28 poems by Charlotte Zolotow. The table of contents has an introductory poem under "Celebrating the Seasons" and then divides the rest into the four seasons, with large, colorful thumbnails marking each section.

The introduction, by Charlotte's daughter Crescent Dragonwagon, talks about the beauty of Charlotte's poetry and her legacy. The introductory poem is bittersweet; it talks about how the seasons are the same every year, but "It is only I/who have changed."

"Spring" includes poems on the river, the wind, watching a bird as you lie in the grass, and several on flowers. "Little crocus/like a cup,/holding all that sunlight up!" "Summer" felt more generic to me with poems about feelings, colors, the ocean, a bridge on a summer night, and insects. "Autumn" focuses more on the season, changing leaves, school, and two poems on Halloween. "Winter" focuses on snow, ice, and waiting for spring. One short poem stands out to me, "Scene" which reads "Little trees like pencil strokes/black and still/etched forever in my mind/on that snowy hill."

The artwork reminded me a little of Jana Christy's soft, fuzzy scenes but while the backgrounds had those same softly glowing colors and blurred edges, the people and animals that populate the book are drawn with clear lines and bolder colors, standing out against the softer backgrounds. Although the poems and art generally picture a specific area - typical four seasons geography - the children pictured are diverse. I think they're the same six children on the cover, shown in different clothes and settings throughout the book, but I'm not obsessive enough to compare each one to be sure.

Verdict: Although poetry generally doesn't circulate well in my library, poetry cleverly disguised as picture books can be sneaked into the picture book section and seasons are always a popular topic. This is a lovely collection of beautiful, accessible verse that parents and children alike can enjoy and, if cataloged and marketed well, should circulate briskly. Recommended.

ISBN: 9781492610685; Published 2015 by Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky; Galley provided by publisher; Purchased for the library

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