7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #791: Featuring Paloma Valdivia

h1 April 17th, 2022 by jules

“What do you call a flower that flits from bird to bird?
Cómo se llama una flor que vuela de pájaro en pájaro?”

(Click spread to enlarge and read text in its entirety)


Today, let’s enter the world of Pablo Neruda, as brought to us by illustrator Paloma Valdivia, translator Sara Lissa Paulson, and the team at Enchanted Lion Books. Book of Questions: Selections/Libro de las preguntas: Selecciones, on shelves this month, is presented in both English and Spanish.

As a note in the book’s backmatter explains, Pablo Neruda, the great Chilean poet, completed Book of Questions (Libro de las preguntas) right before his death in 1973. It is comprised of 74 poems, all questions, and includes a grand total of 320 questions. “In a gracious and meaningful gesture,” the Editor’s Note states, “what Neruda shares with us as an old man isn’t an arrival at Truth, but the astonishing freedom of a curious mind that dares to reimagine a world again and again.”

This visually striking picture book includes 70 questions that come from 39 of the poems in Neruda’s book, and they are arranged into “thematic groups, informed by the relationship between humans and the natural world, mind and geography.” All of the poems here are presented twice — once in English and once in Spanish.

“Where can you find a bell that rings inside your dreams?” “Do you hear explosions of yellow in the middle of the fall?” Is the earth “briefly borrowing the sea” and will we have to “return it, with its tides, to the moon?” “Who shouted for joy when the color blue was born?” Neruda poses questions—evocative, mysterious, and reverent—to the heavens, our planet, and the creatures on it, while some questions dive into the interior world of humans. If I were asked to describe the book in one word, it’d be wonder. It’s utterly wonder-filled. These questions marvel at the mystery of our world. They also play delightfully with language: “And does a word not slither like a snake sometimes?” asks Neruda.

Valdivia’s highly textured illustrations are mesmerizing dreamscapes in teals, vermilions, and yellows. They play with scale and perspective in visually rich ways. And the book’s thoughtful design includes more than one gatefold and endless visual surprises.

It’s a book that young thinkers — deep thinkers — will savor. It’s a book that demands time in the best way. It yields big rewards for readers who linger, taking in the wonder and curiosity of it all. Here are some spreads so that you can see for yourself. …


“What news bursts forth from the leaves of those first days of spring?
¿Qué cuentan de nuevo las hojas de la reciente primavera?”

(Click spread to enlarge and read text in its entirety)


“If flies produced honey, would they offend the bees?
¿Si las moscas fabrican miel ofenderán a las abejas?”

(Click spread to enlarge and read text in its entirety)


“Where does the rainbow end, in your soul or on the horizon?
¿Dónde termina el arco iris, en tu alma o en el horizonte?”

(Click spread to enlarge and read text in its entirety)


“Might I ask my book if I’m the one who really wrote it?
¿Puedo preguntar a mi libro, si es verdad que yo lo escribi?”

(Click spread to enlarge and read text in its entirety)


(Click cover to enlarge)


BOOK OF QUESTIONS: SELECTIONS/LIBRO DE LAS PREGUNTAS: SELECCIONES. Copyright © by PABLO NERUDA and FUNDACIÓN PABLO NERUDA, 1926. First illustrated bilingual Spanish-English selection published in 2022 by Enchanted Lion Books, Brooklyn, NY. English-language translation copyright © 2022 by Sara Elisabeth Paulson. English-language edition cpoyright © 2022 by Enchanted Lions Books. Illustrations reproduced by permission of Enchanted Lion Books, New York.

* * * Jules’s Kicks * * *

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

1) A visit to lovely Concord, Massachusetts, and a tour through Boston Harbor.

2) Long walks with friends.

3) I mentored a student at my daughters’ school, whose senior thesis was about increasing the collection of racially diverse books in the elementary school libraries in our county. And she did a greab job at her thesis defense.

4) Watching the Christopher Reeve Superman movies with our daughters.

5) Oscar Isaac in Moon Knight.

6) New music from Joan Shelley, and Wet Leg’s new album is finally here.

7) Nimona coming to the screen! Finally.

BONUS! The 18-year-old has chosen a college, and we are thrilled for her.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

4 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #791: Featuring Paloma Valdivia”

  1. What a gorgeous book. I love the premise.
    Jules, how exciting that oldest has selected a college. Love the walks.
    My kicks:
    1. The unexpected snow earlier this week was a bit magical. This morning the sun is shining.
    2. Baby birds in the nest (juncos).
    3. Crochet.
    4. Less than 60 days before my trip to Ireland/Scotland.
    5.The book Imperfect II is in the work with one of my poems.
    6. Buster snuggles.
    7. Out of This World, a beautiful illustrated haiku book about space. By Sally Walker and Matthew Trueman.
    Have a great week.

  2. Good day, Imps! Hello, Paloma, Pablo, and Sara Lissa!

    Jules: Congrats to your daughter! Congrats to your student as well. I’m enjoying Moon Knight. I haven’t read the comics. I love Ancient Egypt.

    Jone: Hi Buster and baby birds! Hello, space!

    My kicks from the past week:
    1) Breeze
    2) Snacks
    3) Days
    4) Stairs
    5) Steps
    6) Words
    7) Shared

  3. Love love love Neruda and this book. I foresee a trip to Powell’s to buy multiple copies. This is one I need for me and to give as a gift.

    Jules! So exciting the 18 year old has chosen a college! Yay for trips, long walks with friends, and yes to Moon Knight.

    Jone – that snow day was certainly a surprise! Hooray for good books and the anticipation for your trip.

    Little Willow – your kicks read like a short story today, especially love wondering about the definitely different “stairs and steps” of kicks 4 and 5 and love that last kick Shared.

    My kicks this week:
    1) The very late and surprising snow day in Portland on Monday.
    2) Being cozy and warm while the weather was the opposite.
    3) Watched “Definition, Please” on Netflix and it was good. Sujata Day wrote, directed and starred in it and it was her directorial debut. Good stuff.
    4) Hot cross buns from a neighbor.
    5) Reading Between Two Kingdoms, by Suleaika Jaouad.
    6) This Molly Brodak poem today: https://twitter.com/_anghost/status/1513330726673993731
    7) This podcast (with transcript) on fear and the ADHD brain: https://kitchentablecult.com/2020/02/14/s2-e18-adhd-and-the-fear-motivated-brain-with-dr-rachel-j-hunt/
    7.5) Sunday morning with sweet Daisy.

    Have a wonderful week Imps!

  4. Congrats on kick #5, Jone! And your trip sounds exciting.

    Little Willow, kicks 3 to 7 sound like a kind of mantra.

    Rachel, thanks for the poetry! Do you know I’ve never had hot cross buns? Hugs to Daisy, and stay warm.

    Have a good week, you all!

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