Poetry Friday: Word Up

h1 November 3rd, 2006 by jules

*{Note: Visit here at Big A little a for this week’s Poetry Friday round-up} . . .

Chances are, if you love poetry, you love words. “Lickety-split,” “tremulously,” “chockablock,” and “aflutter” . . . they just roll rhythmically and wondrously off the ‘ol tongue, huh? So, here’s a book for you: The Boy Who Loved Words by Roni Schotter and illustrated by Giselle Potter (and who doesn’t love Giselle Potter and her rather postmodern-folksy illustrations that seem to get better with each book). Published in March of this year, this is an irresistible book about the joy of words (also featuring a poet-in-peril for those of you who need a stronger tie-in for Poetry Friday). I promise I have children’s poetry anthologies sitting in my lap here; it’s just that this charming picture book about the love of words made me think of the love of poetry and gives me a slightly different take on Poetry Friday this week. Plus, I love any book with the word “macaroons” in it. Yum.

“There are, in this world, people who are born collectors. Some collect shells or stones. Others, feathers. Some have even been known to collect tiny teaspoons*. Such a one was Selig. He was a collector of words.” And thus the book opens. I just wanna hang out with Selig — when he hears a word he likes, he not only jots it down on a little slip of paper and then stuffs it into his pocket to keep forever, but he shouts it aloud, too. But, needless to say, Selig doesn’t quite fit in. His father is a shoe-selling practical man, and his mother is “a windmill of worry”; neither approve of his love of lexicon. The other kids tease him, name him “Wordsworth,” and call him an oddball. “‘Oddball!‘” Selig repeated. The silly-sounding word should have made him giggle, but instead it made him lonely.”

But in a prophetic dream, Selig encounters a djinn, telling him that he already has what some people search their whole lives for — a passion. Knowing he has an enthusiasm, Selig wakes up and sets off to find a purpose, a mission with which to pair this passion.

This is an inviting read with a nice dose of whimsy to brighten your Poetry Friday, so I’ll not give away more. But, suffice it to say, a desperate, “pacing poet, unable to sleep for want of a word,” gets a bit of help from Selig, a.k.a. Wordsworth. And all throughout the book’s pages, Potter treats us to words, words, and more words in the form of Selig’s little slips of paper with his heartfelt word-power notations; they are floating all around. I mean to tell you — the poetry-crazy word-lover that you are, which is likely if you’re reading this — that you’ll be in heaven, bending down closely to the book to savor each mellifluous word. And children, particularly your language-arts-lovin’ ones, will get a big kick out of this device. (Visit here for an illustration of what I mean, though it’s hard to read the words; here neighbors are fussing with such words as “ornery,” “hubbub,” jibber-jabber,” “bigwig,” and “vicious” all around them). The sweetest-sounding words are also italicized in the text, and we’re even given an alphabetically-organized glossary on the book’s final end pages with words featured in the book, such as “scrumptious,” “rhapsody,” and “shambling.” You know you love it.

Potter gives us an early 20th-century setting with her detailed and unassuming illustrations rendered in pencil, ink, gouache, gesso, watercolor, and collage. With her alluring illustrations, she welcomes the reader with accessibility through her easy-going, folk-art, rustic touch. In the vein of this great book, I’ll just have to say winsome. Her illustrations are wonderfully winsome. There’s another one that just rolls right off the tongue.

So, for your first Poetry Friday of the month, treat yourself to the passion of Wordsworth:

“Selig loved everything about words — the sound of them in his ears (tintinnabulating!), the taste of them on his tongue (tantalizing!), the thought of them when they percolated in his brain (stirring!), and, most especially, the feel of them when they moved his heart (Mama!).

It probably goes without saying that Selig finds love. Aw. Go, Wordsworth, go. And you just might be a winner, too, “if, one day, while you are thinking or writing or simply speaking, the perfect word just seems to come to you.” You’ll have Selig to thank. To find out why, pick up this pulchritudinous picture book (couldn’t help myself. I’m a word-lover, too).

Happy Poetry Friday!

* {Not terribly pertinent to the book, tiny teaspoons sounds like something Eisha would round up; she squeals over the tiny stuff. Give her something bitty, and she’s blissful.}

6 comments to “Poetry Friday: Word Up”

  1. Thanks for the review. Count me in as a
    word-lover. I’m ordering the book today!

  2. Oooh, good review! I’m going to look for it soon.

  3. well, i do have some little espresso cup-sized spoons – does that count? hey, name that poem:

    “I have measured out my life in coffee spoons.”

    it is a nice review, j. thanks!

  4. t.s. eliot? um, the poem title’s on the tip of my tongue . . . erggh. Prufrock? uh, will have to look it up.

  5. This as I am listening to a song entitled Wasted Words. Nice timing.

    I love words. I’m a word fiend.

  6. I love teh idea of poetry fridays. hurrah. meanwhile, this is a great entry too. If you want to see Cole Porter on breakfast, check out my site: http://www.cookingwithideas.typepad.com

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