A song about myself

John Keats, 1795-1821

Book - 2017

This little-known poem by the beloved poet is filled with playful rhymes that are complemented by vibrant watercolors.

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Picture books
Somerville, Massachusetts : Candlewick Press 2017.
Main Author
John Keats, 1795-1821 (author)
Other Authors
Christopher Raschka (illustrator)
First edition
Physical Description
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 30 cm
Contents unavailable.
Review by New York Times Review

In their brevity and directness, poems and photographs have much in common, Alexander points out in a note in this striking collaborative book. Sartore's up-close photographs of animals in need of protection, each elegantly set against a pure white or black background, are a plea for respect - and help. So is the spare poetry that wends through them, written in a loose haiku style and emphasizing all we humans share with animals. The words cut deep: "Remember, we are part of forever." A SONG ABOUT MYSELF Poem by John Keats. Illustrated by Chris Raschka. 40 pp. Candlewick. $17.99. (Picture book; ages 6 to 9) "There was a naughty Boy, /A naughty Boy was he." So begins a charming trifle the Romantic poet Keats included in a letter to his younger sister. With the Caldecott medalist Raschka's always enjoyable watercolor art, the puckish little poem makes an effervescent picture book. The boy has run "away to Scotland / The people for to see." Recounting the adventurous trip, he also catalogs his own wicked ways: "For nothing would he do / But scribble poetry." Be still my beating heart! BRAVO! Poems About Amazing Hispanics By Margarita Engle. Illustrated by Rafael López. 48 pp. Godwin/ Holt. $18.99. (Picture book; ages 8 to 12) López's bright portraits of notable Hispanics have the large scale and graphic discipline of poster art, while Engle manages to compress the sweep of a biography into a sharp, compact free-verse poem about each life, from childhood on. Some are famous, like César Chávez and Roberto Clemente. All faced challenges - many gut-wrenching, like Julia de Burgos's near starvation in childhood - and made lasting contributions. ONE LAST WORD Wisdom From the Harlem Renaissance Written and illustrated by Nikki Grimes and others. 119 pp. Bloomsbury. $18.99. (Ages 8 and up) Using the playful "golden shovel" form - a chunk of an older poem anchors a new poem, with one word from the old ending each line of the new - Grimes pays tribute to Harlem Renaissance poets like Langston Hughes and Gwendolyn Bennett. Her haunting poems echo and update the earlier poets' themes of struggle, resistance and pride in the face of prejudice. Gorgeous works by 15 black artists, including Javaka Steptoe, the 2017 Caldecott medalist, add to the book's dazzle. OUT OF WONDER By Kwame Alexander, with Chris Colderley and Marjory Wentworth. Illustrated by Ekua Holmes. 32 pp. Candlewick. $16.99. (Middle grade; 8 and up) Any young poet will be heartened by Alexander's reminder that "sometimes our poems sound like they were written by our favorite poets, and that is O.K." The three authors take turns emulating their idols, who include Emily Dickinson, Billy Collins and Terrance Hayes ("Make a paint box out of letters," that poem begins). Complementing the infectious mood of tribute is the spirited mixed-media artwork by Holmes ("Voice of Freedom"), a harmonious riot of color, texture and pattern. ONLINE An expanded visual presentation of this week's column at nytimes.com/books.

Copyright (c) The New York Times Company [April 9, 2017]
Review by Booklist Review

Lively, bright watercolors bring a poem by English Romantic poet Keats into the realm of a contemporary child's experience. The poem is divided into four sections, and Raschka keeps to the original language and spelling. Phrases such as This Knapsack / Tight at's back / He rivetted close and spellings such as ghostes and postes are clarified with context clues. Adults may need to help children learn that Miller's thumb and Tittlebat are types of fish, but little ones will enjoy the sounds of the words even if they don't fully grasp the meanings. A thick, colored arrow runs through each section, emphasizing that the boy is on a journey and giving the whole book a helpful visual structure, and, by the end, the arrow continues pointing onward, suggesting the journey is ongoing. An illustrator's note outlines Keats' life and career and explains that Keats included the poem in a letter sent to entertain his younger sister. This playful poem about exploration and wandering is a lovely complement to Raschka's signature loose style.--Whitehurst, Lucinda Copyright 2016 Booklist

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

At age 22, Romantic poet John Keats (1795-1821) wrote home to his younger sister, Fanny, while hiking the hills of Scotland. His letter included a playful and self-deprecating "song about myself," whimsically illustrated by Raschka (A Ball for Daisy) in watercolor scenes bisected by brightly colored arrows that allude to a long journey in progress. Described as a "naughty boy," the poet "ran away to Scotland/ The people for to see/ Then he found/ That the ground/ Was as hard.... That a door/ Was as wooden/ As in England." If Keats's boy-poet sounds disillusioned, Raschka pictures him as energetic and outdoorsy, leaning against a tree, marveling at a butterfly, and soaking up the sun in all seasons. Raschka fittingly dedicates this edition to his own sister, and his endpapers make connections across time and space, too: a collapsed map imagines the islands of New York City abutting those of Scotland. It's a enchanting and intimate glimpse of the distant, anthologized Keats as a conversational letter writer who once "stood in his shoes/ And... wonder'd" at his world. Ages 6-9. 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-Just about 200 years ago, Keats left his home in London to traipse through the hills of Scotland with a friend, hoping for inspiration. After a 20-mile sojourn, he wrote a letter to his sister, Fanny, in which he included a lighthearted ditty-"a song about myself." The four verses tell of a naughty boy who packs a backpack and leaves home "and followed his Nose/To the North/To the North/And follow'd his nose/To the North." While Keats himself did not take this poem too seriously-he wrote it more as an exercise than a finished piece-it is quite accessible to young readers. Furthermore, Raschka's whimsical watercolors are childlike and lively, depicting simple houses and trees and the red-capped young man enjoying nature. A thick brushstroke of color divides each page, actually an upward arrow at the conclusion of each verse; the final stanza concludes with an arrow that points straight ahead. The endpapers feature a map of the New York City coastline and the Scottish isles separated by "MUCH WATER." Students can write their own playful poems about themselves, rhyming or not, after reading this delightful picture book. VERDICT A lovely introduction to this romantic poet that will please readers of any age.-Barbara Auerbach, New York City Public Schools © Copyright 2017. 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

Keats's playful nonsense poem features the kinds of rhymes that children love to repeat, even if the words don't make complete sense to them. The old-fashioned vocabulary and dense sequences of words make this more of a book for one-on-one sharing than a group read, especially with the plethora of details in Raschka's watercolors. A joyful nonsensical experience for young listeners and readers. (c) Copyright 2017. 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.