Want to know about one of my favorite new poetry titles, as we land here today smack dab in the middle of National Poetry Month? Well, I’m going to tell you, as well as show you art from another new picture book title I love (non-poetry, that is).
This is the opening poem from Lee Bennett Hopkins’ new picture book poetry collection, City I Love, illustrated by Marcellus Hall and released by Abrams Books for Young Readers this month. This is a collection of eighteen poems from Hopkins, poems serving as a tribute to the big cities of the world and everything that makes them pop, celebrating the diversity of city life. Hall, whose debut work illustrating a children’s title I evidently missed last year (but just promptly requested from the library), has created art work for many newspapers and magazines, including the New York Times, the New Yorker, and Time. In this title, he takes us to specific locales all over the world with his detailed and almost sparkling watercolor cartoons (Tokyo in “City Lights,” Moscow in “Winter,” and New Orleans in the haiku, “Sparrow,” to name but three). The visual thread holding the poems together is the dog-bluebird duo travelling the world in Hopkins’ poems, which range from contemplative to jubilant. The endpapers are composed of world maps, noting the cities which the dog and his companion travel. Map-lovers just might squeal.
I’ve got some spreads from it to show you so that we can let Hopkins’ engaging poetry and Hall’s art (which channels Syd Hoff a bit, and that’s a good thing) do the talking. Click on each spread to see better:
I love this book. Young—and old—travellers alike will be delighted.
I also love Andrew Larsen’s Imaginary Garden with illustrations from Irene Luxbacher (Kids Can Press, March 2009). To be clear, this isn’t a poetry title, which we’ve been celebrating a lot here this month at 7-Imp, but it is one of my favorite picture book titles from this year, reflecting one of my favorite themes: The transforming power of art. And just look at this art here in the book’s three opening spreads:
Poppa and Theo continue with the planting of their garden, so to speak, mixing paints and painting tiny stems, the first blooms in crocuses, and a tiny robin, who “has come to visit our garden,” Poppa tells her. When Poppa goes away on holiday (no euphemisms or hidden symbolism there, despite his age; he’s simply a hip world-traveller, it seems), it’s up to Theo to continue to “tend” to the garden. Paintbrush in hand, she’s ready for the task.
I love Larsen’s story, its celebration of the rich imagination of children, and I love Luxbacher’s art here, rendered in pen and ink and multimedia collage. It’s an absolute feast for the eyes, with her generous—but well-composed and not too overwhelming—splashes of brilliant color. (The forget-me-not spread, “Poppa’s favorite flower,” puts the pop in eye-popping.) I hope that Luxbacher, who also teaches art, does even more children’s books. Here’s a random piece of art from her portfolio. See? Don’t you want to know the story behind those zebras? And that snake.
CITY I LOVE © 2009 Lee Bennett Hopkins, illustration © 2009 by Marcellus Hall. Published by Abrams Books for Young Readers, New York, New York. Posted with permission of publisher. All rights reserved.
Selections from The Imaginary Garden by Andrew Larsen and illustrated by Irene Luxbacher. Illustrations and text © 2009. Zebra image also from publisher. All rights reserved.