Thursday, July 25, 2013

WCW for young readers

When my children were younger, we found a reliable source of family fun in William Carlos Williams’s “The Red Wheelbarrow”:

So much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white
Make up substitutes for the nouns — oh, say, dinosaur, poop, umbrellas — and you too can play.

Too late for my family to make use of, A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams, by Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2008), is the work of a writer and an artist with a genuine feeling for Williams’s work. Bryant presents Willie Williams as a boy strongly attuned to the natural world, who looks, listens, writes, and abandons lofty poeticality for the language of everyday things. The book’s pages are often beautifully collaged, though nothing is said about Williams’s interest in visual art. One disappointment: Williams’s mature poetry is presented as the work of the boy Willie, a choice that takes us (no doubt unintentionally) too close to my-kid-could-have-written-that territory. Then again, thinking that a kid wrote those poems might be all some other kid needs to feel inspired about writing.

This book would make a wonderful gift for a young reader.

Related reading
All Willam Carlos Williams posts (Pinboard)

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