by Kwame Alexander
Book list Come, let your fingers wonder as they wander through this engaging and mesmerizing ode to reading. Beginning with the captivating front endpapers that contain a poem and letters of the alphabet, this title is a treat to ears and eyes with its lyrical language and visual metaphors. Newbery medalist Alexander instructs the reader on how to best go about devouring a book, likening it to peeling a piece of fruit and savoring its goodness. First, pick a comfortable place to sit, open a book, and open your mind to all that volume has to offer. Caldecott Honor Book illustrator Sweet's intricate collage art uses an array of materials, including text and images from Bambi, old book covers, watercolors, and gouache paintings. Popping pink, orange, yellow, and purple leap from the artwork, creating an energy and optimism that will keep readers glued to the pages. Books take on the shape of a bookmobile, a guitar, a record player, and a toaster that spews forth letters spelling Once upon a Time. One gatefold and a die-cut page continue to enthrall and expand enthusiasm. The author admonishes readers: Don't rush though: Your eyes need time to taste. Your soul needs room to bloom. Endnotes by the author and illustrator describe how they came to create this delightful and appealing instruction manual.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Newbery medalist Alexander is popular across genres, and Caldecott Honoree Sweet's illustratrions enhance any project; together, they make an irresistible (and multi-award-winning) team--Maryann Owen Copyright 2019 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
School Library Journal PreS-Gr 2—Award-winning poet Alexander compares reading a book to peeling the gentle skin of a clementine, digging in to its juiciness, enjoying it "piece by piece, part by part," until you can "watch a novel world unfurl right before your eyes." And who better to illustrate this delicious poem than Caldecott Honoree Sweet. The artwork is done in watercolor, gouache, mixed media, handmade and vintage papers, found objects including old book covers, and a paint can lid. Not a splash of color, a piece of paper, or a line is out of place. Starting with the initial collage that incorporates the building blocks of reading (the letters A to Z) and the lines from a poem by Nikki Giovanni that careful readers will have to pay attention to see, the tone is set. "So get/real cozy/between/the covers/And let your/fingers wonder/as they wander…" for there is much to relish in this poem and its exuberant images. "Squeeze/every morsel/of each plump line/until the last/drop of magic/drips from the infinite sky." The book includes a note from both the poet and the artist. VERDICT A beautiful book not to be rushed through, but to be enjoyed morsel by tasty morsel.—Lucia Acosta, Children's Literature Specialist, Princeton, NJ
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Kirkus A linguistic and visual feast awaits in Alexander and Sweet's debut collaboration.If the mechanics of deciphering words on a page is a well-covered topic, the orchestration of finding magic between pages is an art emphasized but unexplaineduntil now. First things are first: "find a treea black tupelo or dawn redwood will doand plant yourself." Once settled, take the book in hand and "dig your thumb at the bottom of each juicy section and pop the words out[then] // Squeeze every morsel of each plump line until the last drop of magic / drips from the infinite sky." Reading, captured here in both content and form, is hailed as the unassailably individual, creative act it is. The prosody and rhythm and multimodal sensuousness of Alexander's poetic text is made playfully material in Sweet's mixed-media collage-and-watercolor illustrations. Not only does the book explain how to read, but it also demonstrates the elegant and emotive chaos awaiting readers in an intricate partnership of text and image. Despite the engaging physicality of gatefolds and almost three-dimensional spreads, readers with lower contrast sensitivity or readers less experienced at differentiating shapes and letters may initially find some of the more complex collage spreads difficult to parse. Children depicted are typically kraft-paper brown.New readers will be eager to follow such unconventional instructions, and experienced readers will recognize every single step. (Picture book. 4-7) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Publishers Weekly Newbery Medalist Alexander's love poem to literacy conjures up startling, luscious images: to begin reading a book, he tells readers, "peel its gentle skin,/ like you would/ a clementine..../ Dig your thumb/ at the bottom/ of each juicy section." Caldecott Honor artist Sweet (Some Writer!) riffs on his verse, line by line, imbuing spreads with the feel of a continually evolving, handmade Valentine (as the copyright page pointedly notes, "no computer was used in making this art"). By turns dreamy and ecstatic, the images include portraits of blissed-out readers in a variety of settings, all constructed from swaths of saturated neon color and literary-themed ephemera (pages from Bambi are used throughout). One gatefold transforms a book into an electric orange triple-decker party bus, with 18 windows revealing allusive scenes made from cut paper and collage. The text, set in hand-lettered capitals, sprawls and stacks energetically as it proclaims its bibliophilia-sometimes whispering and cooing, sometimes shouting from the rooftops that it's got it bad for books. And why not? As Alexander writes, "Now, sleep./ dream./ hope./ (you never reach)/ the end." Ages 4-8. (June) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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