Thursday, August 31, 2006

Poetry Friday: Opposites by Richard Wilbur

Opposites, More Opposites, and a Few Differences written and
illustrated by Richard Wilbur. 1973; 1991; Harcourt, 2006, (0-15-205612-2) $10.95

(This book will be available in October.)

Opposites is probably best known for this short poem:

What is the opposite of two?
A lonely me, a lonely you.

Other poems are longer but equally snappy:

What is the opposite of Cupid?
If you don't know, you're pretty stupid.
It's someone with a crossbow who
Delights in shooting darts at you
Not with the kind intentions of
Persuading you to fall in love,
But to be mean, and make you shout,
"I hate you, " "Ouch," and "Cut it out."

A combined edition of two books published decades ago, this is a lively, lighthearted collection that reads equally well aloud or silently. But despite the bare-bones look of its solid, black-inked illustrations--or perhaps because of them?--there's a sophisticated air to this book, which makes me think it would be most enjoyed almost on the sly, "discovered" on an adult's bookshelf instead of found tamely in the children's room. Another thought: try it on readers who enjoy Lemony Snicket. (8 & up)

currently reading aloud: Thank You, Thanksgiving

But has my boy once thanked me for reading it aloud so often...?

Thank You, Thanksgiving written and illustrated by David
Milgrim. Clarion, 2003 (0-618-27466-9) $9.95; 2006
(978-0-618-75243-0) $5.95 pb

Gratitude is expressed with simplicity and charm, as a little girl goes on a Thanksgiving day errand, thanking the birds who sing music to her, the warm boots that keep her cozy in the snow, and the duck that brings her the scarf she left behind. There are funny bits here, like the girl's Hollywood entrance back home: "Thank you, thank you," she gracefully bows. But the heart of the book is her joyous appreciation of all the small gifts of the day. Chunky, digitally created illustrations have a childlike quality that seems just right for the child's-eye view. (2-5)