I Saw a Peacock with a Fiery Tail

Overview


A New York Times "Favorite Book Cover Design 2012" Pick

"Delightfully illustrated" - The New York Times

"In this visual stunner...the literal setting of the words is as key to the volume’s success as are its text and illustrations... Indian folk art triumphantly meets 17th-century English trick verse in this sophisticated graphic venture fit for middle graders on up." - Starred, Kirkus Reviews

"A stunning reminder of why people keep making ...

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Overview


A New York Times "Favorite Book Cover Design 2012" Pick

"Delightfully illustrated" - The New York Times

"In this visual stunner...the literal setting of the words is as key to the volume’s success as are its text and illustrations... Indian folk art triumphantly meets 17th-century English trick verse in this sophisticated graphic venture fit for middle graders on up." - Starred, Kirkus Reviews

"A stunning reminder of why people keep making real-live books... Visually delicious and beautifully made. . . a testament to the vitality of two art forms that just won't answer to their death knells: poetry and the book." - NPR Summer Reads Pick

This 17th century British poem is a form of trick verse. Here, the very design of the book brings clarity to the verse, as whimsical die-cuts in each page reveal the poem's nuanced meaning. Read straightforwardly, the poem sounds interestingly surreal. But if the lines are broken up in the middle, then everything falls into place. Illustrations by award-winning Gond artist Ramsingh Urveti (of The Night Life of Trees), book design by Jonathan Yamakami.

US Grade Level Equivalent: 2
US Guided Reading Level: K

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
“I saw a peacock with a fiery tail/ I saw a blazing comet drop down hail,” are lines from a piece of 17th-century English trick verse whose meaning alters depending on where the lines break. This slim book takes advantage of that duality, using die-cuts and Indian tribal artist Urveti’s b&w illustrations to illustrate the poem’s multiple potential meanings. In one scene, “a sturdy oak” is seen “with ivy circled round,” but on the next page, it begins to “creep on the ground,” its trunk transforming into rows of beetlelike creatures. With each line building upon the previous one and evoking the line that follows, readers may begin to think of a poem less as a chronological line than as a web of words, images, and possibilities. All ages. (May)
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
This seventeenth century English folk poem is a form of trick verse that can be read in two ways, each generating very different meanings. It is printed in its entirety on the first page. But half of each of the twelve lines is printed in italics while the rest is not. Each line makes surreal sense as it stands, but if you start reading with the first part of the second line and then read the last part of the line above, this also makes sense, yet paints a very different picture. On subsequent pages, inventive die cuts enable us to read the poem both ways. Urveti's black line drawings in the style of the Gond tribe of artists from Madhya Pradesh in central India incorporate small holes that expose the half-lines. The reader is challenged to perceive representational objects from abstract shapes, each covered with different decorative patterns, designed to relate metaphorically with the poetic lines. Along with a lesson in grammar and punctuation is the challenge of making sense of the poem itself. Notes add information about the poem, art, and designer. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Kirkus Reviews
Creative worlds collude and collide in this contemporary rendering of a well-known 17th-century English poem. Seldom does a book review address a book's design, but in this visual stunner from publisher Tara, the literal setting of the words is as key to the volume's success as are its text and illustrations. Urveti, an acclaimed artist from Madhya Pradesh in central India, chooses for his subject an oft-anthologized anonymous c.-1665 "trick" poem, depicting the wily text with ravishingly detailed black-and-white pen-and-ink drawings in a style typical of Gond tribal art. The other third of this global collaboration is Brazilian designer Yamakami's exquisitely thoughtful setting of the 12-line poem, which highlights the reflexivity of the six couplets. The meanings of these couplets can be gleaned reading each line with the rhyme from beginning to end, or--the tricky part--against it, from the middle of one line to the middle of the next. Take, for example, the poem's opening: "I saw a peacock with a fiery tail / I saw a blazing comet drop down hail / I saw a cloud…." Through the use of intricate die cuts, Yamakami subtly leads readers from a spread featuring a plumped-up peacock to the image of a comet with its "fiery tail" of metaphorical "hail," then onto a cloud dropping the more literal icy phenomenon. These careful cuts draw readers through the work from cover to cover, brilliantly underscoring both the poem's dizzying, dreamlike essence and its thematic obsession with the subjective nature of seeing. Indian folk art triumphantly meets 17th-century English trick verse in this sophisticated graphic venture fit for middle graders on up. (Picture book/poetry. 10 & up)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9789380340142
  • Publisher: Tara Books
  • Publication date: 5/15/2012
  • Pages: 56
  • Sales rank: 685,110
  • Lexile: NPL (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author


Illustrator Ramsingh Urveti belongs to the Gond tribe of artists from Madhya Pradesh in central India. A winner of national and international awards, Ramsingh’s art is intense and poetic. He contributed to Tara’s highly acclaimed "The Night Life of Trees," and this is his first book as a solo artist.

Jonathan Yamakami is a young graphic designer hailing from São Paulo, Brazil. He is particularly interested in exploring new ways of presenting and conceiving of the book, and has worked with Tara on a number of seminal projects.

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