The death of the hat A brief history of poetry in 50 objects

Book - 2015

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Location Call Number   Status
Children's Room j808.81/Janeczko Due May 8, 2024
Somerville, Massachusetts : Candlewick Press 2015.
Other Authors
Paul B. Janeczko (compiler), Christopher Raschka (illustrator)
First edition. Reinforced trade edition
Physical Description
77 pages : color illustrations ; 26 cm
  • Early middle ages, 400-1000
  • High middle ages, 1000-1500
  • The Renaissance, 1500-late 1600s
  • The Enlightenment, late 1600s-1785
  • Romantic period, 1785-1830
  • Victorian period, 1837-1901
  • Modern period, 1900-1945
  • Postmodern period, 1945-present
  • Contemporary.
Review by New York Times Review

POEMS DON'T NECESSARILY need pictures, nor pictures poems. But children - for whom magic is real and logic over-rated - love and need both. In three handsome new poetry collections for children, word and image energize and illuminate each other, becoming journeys for the eye and ear. The word "nursery" in the title "Over the Hills and Far Away: A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes" implies that these poems are for the very youngest children, but my 8-year-old daughter read this book for a long time, saying, "I like that the poems come from all over the world." Because each of the book's 77 illustrators gets a two-page spread featuring one to three poems, to turn a page is to shift worlds. Tongue-twisters ("Betty Botter") segue to spirituals ("Who built the ark?/Noah, Noah") to Mother Goose ("Little Boy Blue") to this luminous tercet, accompanied by a desert sunset, from the Southwestern indigenous tribe Tohono O'odham: How shall I begin my song In the blue night that is settling? I will sit here and begin my song. The illustrations in this book make bridges, helping us, say, to see similarities and differences in animal poems with wordplay from Australia and America. Trinidadian clapping rhyme verses ("Mosquito one, / Mosquito two, / Mosquito jump in de callaloo") are pasted into a vivid paper collage by Petrina Wright. John Lawrence's woodcuts of London townspeople seem perfect for the old English bell poem: "When will you pay me?/Say the bells of Old Bailey./When I grow rich, / Say the bells of Shoreditch." Pamela Zagarenski's Chagall-like village features a tiny elephant, a child asleep on a hillside and a giant man blowing cloud-swirls across a monumental moon. The untitled American lyric it accompanies is casually riveting: Bed is too small for my tiredness. Give me a hilltop with trees; Tuck a cloud up under my chin. Lord, blow out the moon - please. That contains both mystery and comfort, which might be key to what makes good kids' poetry good. Diversity helps, too. My daughter and I discovered, reading this book, that the lullaby I still sing her ("All the pretty little horses") is African-American in origin. Holly Sterling's illustration shows a burly brown man cradling a baby girl as dream horses run through a night sky. Wonderful, but not common, to find dads in a book of children's poems. JooHee Yoon's "Beastly Verse" is very much about its pictures. Three-color illustrations of critters fill up page after intense page, cheerily aggressive, goofy, beastly-friendly. Yoon's poem selection is economical, intelligent, even hip. Laura Richards's kid-anthology standard "Eletelephony" ("Once there was an elephant,/Who tried to use the telephant -/No! no! I mean an elephone/Who tried to use the telephone -") is here. So, naturally, is Blake's sublime "The Tyger" (modernized to "The Tiger": Why?), and Ogden Nash: The Eel I don't mind eels Except as meals. And the way they feels. "Beastly Verse" also contains surprises, like Robert Desnos's "The Pelican," involving pelican eggs and omelets, and D.H. Lawrence's "Humming-bird," which begins I can imagine, in some otherworld Primeval-dumb, far back In that most awful stillness, that only gasped and hummed, Humming-birds raced down the avenues. That's characteristic Lawrence - sprawling, neurotically alive. Kids appreciate the bizarre and off-kilter, and are too often denied it when grown-ups edit for positive messages and sweetness. Hooray for Yoon for countering that. Within the book's visual continuity, Yoon's selections change mood: "Sunlight, moonlight,/Twilight, starlight -/Gloaming at the close of day," begins Walter de la Mare's "Dream Song," which goes on to talk of "an owl calling" and "lions roaring,/Their wrath pouring. . . ." I don't particularly want to read poems in sans-serif type in bright colors or white letters, never in black, but my daughter thought that was silly of me. Certainly it makes visual sense that in "Dream Song," "Elf-light, batlight,/Touchwood-light and toad-light. . . ." emerge golden from the dark forest Yoon has painted behind the words. Paul B. Janeczko's excellent selections for "The Death of the Hat: A Brief History of Poetry in 50 Objects" are mainly grown-up poems that children will like for their emotional authenticity, verbal texture, accessibility and figurative magic. Chris Raschka's watercolor-and-ink renderings are attractively impressionistic: "gray and batter'd ship" for Walt Whitman's "The Dismantled Ship"; ethereal scarecrow for Basho's "Midnight frost -/I'd borrow/the scarecrow's shirt"; wheelbarrow and puffy white chicken for William Carlos Williams. Organized chronologically from the early Middle Ages to the contemporary Palestinian-American poet Naomi Shihab Nye, the book interprets the word "object" broadly. The inanimate includes Neruda's stamp album, Sandburg's lackadaisically aphoristic "Boxes and Bags," Dickinson's railway train that her speaker likes to see "lap the miles." Living objects include Sylvia Plath's "Mushrooms" ("Overnight, very/Whitely, discreetly"), Lawrence Ferlinghetti's "The Cat" (who "sees ghosts in motes of air") and Tennyson's "The Eagle," which my in-house predator-lover liked especially for the metaphors: The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls; He watches from his mountain walls, And like a thunderbolt he falls. It may be of moral importance for children to have magic in their lives; metaphor is one way for them to experience that. In "The Death of the Hat," objects can be cosmic, and political, like Langston Hughes's "Stars": "O, sweep of stars over Harlem streets, . . . / Reach up your hand, dark boy, and take a star." Janeczko doesn't shy from serious matter. There's war and pastoral richness in the medieval Arab-Andalusian poet Ibn Iyad's "Grainfield": Look at the ripe wheat bending before the wind like squadrons of horsemen fleeing in defeat, bleeding from the wounds of the poppies. Janeczko knows that poetry for kids, as for adults, needn't be simplistic, that in writing about objects, poets write about people. In the title poem, Billy Collins describes how "the day war was declared/ everyone in the street was wearing a hat" and remembers a father coming home from work in a hat with the evening paper. Some poems in this book, like Collins's, don't exclude difficult emotions - but deliver them gently: And now my father, after a life of work, wears a hat of earth, and on top of that, a lighter one of cloud and sky - a hat of wind. DAISY FRIED is the author of three books of poems, most recently "Women's Poetry: Poems and Advice."

Copyright (c) The New York Times Company [April 12, 2015]
Review by Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Janeczko and Raschka team up yet again for this excellent anthology of poems about objects. Arranged in chronological order, the poems focus on objects ranging from concrete, such as the red wheelbarrow and white chickens in William Carlos Williams' well-known Imagist poem, to abstract, like Lord Byron's elegant and pithy ode to the letter e: The beginning of eternity, the end of time and space / the beginning of every end, and the end of every place. Janeczko wisely includes poems that are not so easy to parse out what do cobwebs have to do with It is a land with neither night nor day, / Nor heat nor cold, nor any wind nor rain? which will likely invite thought-provoking discussions. Raschka's illustrations, in his recognizable watercolor style, loosely depict the objects in the verses, but they are unobtrusive enough that the poems always take center stage. Sylvia Plath's Mushrooms, for instance, is surrounded by earth-toned suggestions of mushroomy shapes, leaving plenty of white space around her cheerful, propulsive lines. This accessible collection, containing poems from a wide variety of eras, regions, and styles and by a diverse group of writers, is a subtly thoughtful and engaging gateway to classic poetry, and a superb resource for the classroom.--Hunter, Sarah Copyright 2015 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Janeczko and Raschka's stellar fourth poetry collaboration, following A Poke in the I and other acclaimed titles, presents a chronological "history" of the development of poetry, from the Middle Ages to the present. The highlighted poems are, ostensibly, about objects, but a cigar is rarely just a cigar. Janeczko's selections and Raschka's characteristically airy illustrations let readers uncover layers of meaning, possibility, and emotion in poems from Rumi, Emily Dickinson, William Wordsworth, Pablo Neruda, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and others. Janeczko's substantial introduction gives an overview of poetry's evolution over the centuries, yet works like Lord Byron's "A Riddle, on the Letter E" resonate powerfully on their own: "The beginning of eternity, the end of time and space,/ The beginning of every end, and the end of every place." Ages 8-12. Illustrator's agent: Brenda Bowen, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. (Mar.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by School Library Journal Review

Gr 3 Up-Poet and anthologist Janeczko has joined with illustrator Raschka to create their fourth anthology of poetry for young people. The 50 selections are arranged in nine sections, each representing a different time period, from the early Middle Ages to the present day. The common thread is objects. The title poem discusses the demise of hat wearing in our society, while others take on such varied objects as ships, shadows, candles, stars, trees, cats and even stamp albums and manhole covers. Included are familiar offerings (e.g., Emily Dickinson's "The Railway Train," Robert Louis Stevenson's "My Shadow," and Robert Burns's "A Red, Red Rose"), as well some lesser known works. An in-depth introduction provides welcome context and explains how the examples were chosen from Janeczko's personal collection of more than 1,500 books. Although the poems are mostly representative of Western literature, readers will find some examples of Eastern poetry. Women are also represented, such as Naomi Shihab Nye, Christina Rossetti, and Sylvia Plath. Raschka's lively, vibrant watercolors frame the text, enhancing and imbuing the poems with life. VERDICT This award-winning pair have once again delivered a book to be celebrated. Though the subject matter makes this most appropriate for younger readers, this anthology may also find a home in middle and high school libraries and classrooms. An excellent addition to any collection.-Carole Phillips, Greenacres Elementary School, Scarsdale, NY (c) Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Horn Book Review

In their fourth collaboration (beginning with A Poke in the I, rev. 7/01), Janeczko and Raschka offer readers fifty poems, from the early Middle Ages (400-1000 AD) to the overlapping postmodern and contemporary movements (1945 to the present). That all the poems are about objects unifies the collection; their chronological organization provides structure (there is no index, however; and the lack of information on place of origin detracts from the reader's understanding of the diversity of the collection). Raschka's soft, impressionistic watercolors showcase each poem, often encasing it inside curved or straight lines, or, for the opening (Eloise Greenfield's "Things") and closing (Naomi Shihab Nye's "Famous") poems, containing them within soft blue frames. But he also visually encourages continuous reading. In "A Solitary Wildgoose" Cui Tu writes: "Line after line has flown back over the border. Where are you headed all by yourself?" The accompanying image, an encircled-in-blue white goose, repeats throughout, nudging readers to a page-turn as they head to the next poem. Expect variety in the selections, from old favorites such as "My Shadow" by Robert Louis Stevenson to "Grainfield" by Ibn 'Iyad ("Look at the ripe wheat / bending before the wind // like squadrons of horsemen / fleeing in defeat, bleeding / from the wounds of the poppies") to Pablo Neruda's "Ode to a Stamp Album." betty carter (c) Copyright 2015. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

Janeczko and Raschka reunite for a fourth anthology, featuring poems spanning two millennia. The unifying conceitall the poems focus on objectshas a grounding effect, helping readers perceive linkages among the poets across centuries. As Janeczko observes in a pithy introduction, poems are grouped within nine sections named for major periods of Western cultural history, such as the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. Nonetheless, he "could not ignore the strong poemsfound from Eastern poets." The 13th-century Persian poet Rumi observes a candle, "made to become entirely flame." Seventeenth-century Japanese master Basho muses, "Midnight frost / I'd borrow / the scarecrow's shirt." Twelve women are represented, including Phillis Wheatley, Christina Rossetti and Sylvia Plath. Some poems are famous: William Carlos Williams' "The Red Wheelbarrow" is here, as well as Robert Burns' "A Red, Red Rose." Less familiar choices are poignant, even cheeky: John Updike's "Lament, for Cocoa" rues, "The scum has come. / My cocoa's cold." Raschka's playful watercolors on crisp, white backgrounds distill both images and emotions from the poems. In "The Cat and the Moon," he visually parallels William Butler Yeats' lines, the cat's eyes echoing the crescent moon's shape. The white goose of Cui Tu's "A Solitary Wildgoose" appears throughout, flying alone until uniting with a flock on the back endpapers. Another winning collaboration from two luminaries. (acknowledgements) (Picture book/poetry. 8-12) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.