I don’t want anyone to forget that we just finished poetry month, so it’s good to keep one fabulous book of poetry in mind in May, too.
I am happy to write about Laura Purdie Salas today, May 1st, about her new book, Bookspeak, illustrated by Josée Bisaillon. I wrote a haiku for Laura today as a tribute to her love of books and poetry, and because she wrote a haiku every day during poetry month.
Talk of poetry.
Laura’s popping up everywhere.
She writes how books feel!
When I taught in the classroom we loved conversations about books and reading. We discussed what books give us, what they do for us, those we like and why, those we dislike and why. Students not only discussed these topics as a class group, but they wrote to me in letter journals about their books and delights or struggles. They brought books that I just had to read and they loaned books to each other. The more formal writing was about books, too: poetry, reviews, and personal stories about their earliest memories or special times with books and parents, grandparents or aunts and uncles. I have a few books with published works about books too, but Laurie Purdie Salas’ recent book filled with wonderful poems about all kinds of book topics makes me sad because I am no longer in the classroom so I can share it with my students. However, I have done the next best thing, I am sharing the book titled Bookspeak with all the classes in the school!
Other writers have written memorable poems about books and about reading, but Laura’s Bookspeak is full of poems in books’ own voices. And, just as there are so many kinds of books, there are different kinds of bookish voices, like the first poem, obviously from one of those books that make one smile all the way through. The poem, Calling All Readers, has lilting lines like I’ll tell you a story./I’ll spin you a rhyme./I’ll spill some ideas—/and we’ll travel through time. Another poem, titled Top Secret, is a whisper of intrigue, starting with Describe your desires and they become mine. And quite a prickly, rather outraged voice is titled Index. It’s filled with the right stuff about indexes, showing how many marvelous things one can learn if the index is NOT ignored. It starts with P s s s t! Hey, kid—yeah, you./So you want some facts, huh?
Each page holds another bookish voice, introducing some aspect of one of our most favorite things—books! I just want to tell about each poem! There are books that tell certain uncomfortable things that happen to them, like when someone falls asleep on them, or the worst, when “wet” happens. There are those that speak of unhappiness, like being the book’s middle, instead of first or last. Laura’s words show well that she really has crawled INSIDE books in order to speak for them.
Illustrator Josée Bisaillon uses collage and drawings that add to Laura’s words, connecting well the beauty and excitement that books can bring to the reader. The book recently won the award for Children’s Literature from the Annual Minnesota Book Awards.
With permission from Laura, here is my favorite poem of the book:
Written in Snow
dipped in black.
Through the blizzard
They tiptoe bravely
out, then home.
In this past April-poetry month, I’ve found that Laura really is popping up in many places. I receive Your Daily Poem each day in my e-mail, and on April 20th here was a wonderful poem from Laura. Also, Laura has visited several blogs this past April where you can discover more of the work that she is doing: The Hate-Mongering Tart, Live Your Poem, Katie Davis, Read, Write, Howl, and No Water River.
Finally, one of the most wonderful things I know about Laura is that she does so many bookish things. She has written and recently published a beautiful non-fiction picture book titled A Leaf Can Be, she writes a cool blog, Laura Salas, writing the world for kids, which shares ideas for writing and publishing. Also, on her blog each Thursday Laura offers an interesting photograph, challenging readers to write a 15 words or less poem and add it in the comments. And, she replies to every single poet commenter that day! What a lovely thing to do. I know when I venture to write one, I feel good when Laura says something nice about it. She is generous with her response. Here is the link to Laura’s website with even more information.
I hope that you can find a copy of BookSpeak and share it with your friends, family and students. It’s a treasure to own.