Three Delightful and Recommended Books Not Just for Children

Once there was a little boy named Neftalí who loved wild things wildly and quiet things quietly. From the moment he could talk, he surrounded himself with words. Neftalí discovered the magic between the pages of books. When he was sixteen, he began publishing his poems as Pablo Neruda.

Pablo wrote poems about the things he loved―things made by his friends in the café, things found at the marketplace, and things he saw in nature. He wrote about the people of Chile and their stories of struggle. Because above all things and above all words, Pablo Neruda loved people.

 Brown adds to her growing list of noteworthy picture-book biographies with this lyrical introduction to poet Pablo Neruda. “From the moment he could talk, Neftalí surrounded himself with words that whirled and swirled, just like the river that ran near his home in Chile,” begins the simple, rhythmic text that follows Neruda from childhood to adult fame as an activist and beloved “poet of the people.” Brown distills events into just a few words on each page, and younger children may need further explanation about why, for example, Neruda is pursued by soldiers. And while Paschkis’ whimsical portraits honor the poet’s heritage and work with streams of words woven into the vibrantly patterned artwork, the intriguing design elements include many references that seem aimed at older children and adults. Still, Brown’s succinct lines read like a poem themselves, and they emphasize the infinite places writers find inspiration, from seashores to coal mines to the faces of people they love. A long biographical note and suggested resources conclude this handsome offering. Grades 1-3. –Gillian Engberg

Enormous Smallness is a nonfiction picture book about the poet E.E. cummings. Here E.E.’s life is presented in a way that will make children curious about him and will lead them to play with words and ask plenty of questions as well. Lively and informative, the book also presents some of Cummings’s most wonderful poems, integrating them seamlessly into the story to give the reader the music of his voice and a spirited, sensitive introduction to his poetry.

In keeping with the epigraph of the book — “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are,” Matthew Burgess’s narrative emphasizes the bravery it takes to follow one’s own vision and the encouragement E.E. received to do just that.

Matthew Burgess teaches creative writing and composition at Brooklyn College. He is also a writer-in-residence with Teachers & Writers Collaborative, leading poetry workshops in early elementary classrooms since 2001. He was awarded a MacArthur Scholarship while working on his MFA, and he received a grant from The Fund for Poetry. Matthew’s poems and essays have appeared in various journals, and his debut collection, Slippers for Elsewhere, was published by UpSet Press. His doctoral dissertation explores childhood spaces in twentieth century autobiography, and he completed his PhD at the CUNY Graduate Center in June 2014.

Kris Di Giacomo is an American who has lived in France since childhood. She has illustrated over twenty-five books for French publishers, which have been translated into many languages. This is her sixth book to be published by Enchanted Lion Books.

 

A boy rides a bicycle down a dusty road. But in his mind, he envisions himself traveling at a speed beyond imagining, on a beam of light. This brilliant mind will one day offer up some of the most revolutionary ideas ever conceived. From a boy endlessly fascinated by the wonders around him, Albert Einstein ultimately grows into a man of genius recognized the world over for profoundly illuminating our understanding of the universe. Jennifer Berne and Vladimir Radunsky invite the reader to travel along with Einstein on a journey full of curiosity, laughter, and scientific discovery. Parents and children alike will appreciate this moving story of the powerful difference imagination can make in any life.

*Starred Review* It’s not easy to explain the work of Albert Einstein to a young audience, but this marvelous book pulls it off. It does so by providing an overview of Einstein’s life: the way he thought and how his remarkable ideas changed the way scientists think. Berne begins with baby Albert, who didn’t say a word. And as he got older, he didn’t say a word—but he looked and wondered. When he was a student, his teachers thought he was too different, but his differences led him to think about natural phenomenon like light and numbers in new ways. The book reroutes the text around events in Einstein’s life, such as his escape from Nazi Germany and his move to the U.S., and it only touches upon his work on the nuclear bomb. This is a more personal look, but still, it explains how he came to the discovery of atoms and his theories about the speed of light. The text could not have better support than Radunsky’s artwork. Executed on textured papers, the stylized watercolors outlined in ink sometimes eschew decoration, with the focus on Einstein and others in his life; other spreads are swirled with words and numbers. The book stresses that readers may someday answer the questions that Einstein didn’t get to, and an author’s note extends the text with paragraphs about Einstein’s pacifism, personality, and thought experiments. A book as special as its subject. Grades 1-3. –Ilene Cooper 

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About Ryusho 龍昇

Nichiren Shu Buddhist priest. My home temple is Myosho-ji, Wonderful Voice Temple, in Charlotte, NC. You may visit the temple’s web page by going to http://www.myoshoji.org. I am also training at Carolinas Medical Center as a Chaplain intern. It is my hope that I eventually become a Board Certified Chaplain. Currently I am also taking healing touch classes leading to become a certified Healing Touch Practitioner. I do volunteer work with the Regional AIDS Interfaith Network (you may learn more about them by following the link) caring for individuals who are HIV+ or who have AIDS/SIDA.