In the Land of Words: New and Selected Poems

In the Land of Words: New and Selected Poems

by Eloise Greenfield, Jan Spivey Gilchrist

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The words can come from a memory, or a dream, or something I see or hear or wonder about or imagine. . . . Maybe there's a place where words live, where our minds and hearts can go and find them when we want to write or read. I like to imagine that there is such a place. I call it "The Land of Words."

In this collection of twenty-one poems, National Council of

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The words can come from a memory, or a dream, or something I see or hear or wonder about or imagine. . . . Maybe there's a place where words live, where our minds and hearts can go and find them when we want to write or read. I like to imagine that there is such a place. I call it "The Land of Words."

In this collection of twenty-one poems, National Council of Teachers of English Excellence in Poetry for Children Award winner Eloise Greenfield journeys to a place where words, creativity, and imagination abound. Featuring the poems "In the Land of Words," "Books," and "Poem," as well as favorites such as "Nathaniel's Rap" and "Way Down in the Music," this tribute to the written word invites readers to look within themselves and discover what inspires them.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Longtime collaborators Greenfield and Gilchrist (Nathaniel Talking) present a snappy mix of new and old poems that collectively sing the praises of the written word. In the book's first section, Greenfield shares her inspirations for selections such as "Way Down in the Music" ("There are times when I feel as if I'm down inside the music, it's swirling over my head and all around me"). "Down in the bass where the beat comes from/ Down in the horn and down in the drum/ I get down/ I get down," she writes, as Gilchrist, who debuts a new approach that incorporates sewn fabric collage, shows the boy speaker floating on a wave of sound that emanates from a music staff. Verses in the second half extol the virtues of words in all their variety, from stories and tongue twisters to riddles and poems. In the new "Poet/Poem," Greenfield inventively sets up a dialogue between the two. "Poet: Where are you, words,/ the ones that will fit/ the thoughts I am thinking,/ as here I sit?/ Poem: Hiding, I'm hiding,/ I let you see/ only the smallest/ part of me./ If you want to see more,/ you'll have to go deep/ into the forest/ where I sleep." Here Gilchrist depicts an enchanting girl poet, her thoughtful expression and posture drawn on felt, a crown of curls created from embroidery thread, and a dress of flower-patterned fabric. Unconventional punctuation, metaphor and colorful, enlarged typeface abound, effectively inviting budding readers and writers to share in a love of language. Ages 4-8. (Jan.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
"In the land of words, I stand as still as a tree, and let the words rain down on me." Words simply flow to the author from her memory, imagination, or a dream. The book is divided into two parts. With each poem in the first section comes an explanation of how it came to mind. There are poems about babies, making friends, flowers and music. Thinking about patience inspired, "It takes more than a wish to catch a fish..." The second section contains poems about books, riddles, and words. Twenty-one poems in the collection explore the magic of putting words together to create a poem. Sewn fabric collages grace each page with whimsy and charm. Greenfield and Gilchrist, Coretta Scott King Award winners, have issued an invitation of inspiration for children to try their own creations. 2004, Harper Collins, Ages 4 to 8.
—Laura Hummel
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 3-With these 21 offerings, Greenfield celebrates the poet and the written word. The book opens solidly with the title piece, which has a childlike, balanced cadence: "In the land/of words,/I stand as still/as a tree,/and let the words/rain down on me." Its lovely metaphor is strikingly well realized in Gilchrist's fabric-art illustration. A tree trunk laid down the middle acts as a bridge between the facing pages, with the image of a child standing with arms upraised on one side and the text set against white space on the other. Most of the selections in the first section, "The Poet/The Poem," have been published in earlier works. They include favorites such as "Nathaniel's Rap" and "Making Friends" from Nathaniel Talking (Black Butterfly, 1988; o.p.). Part two, "In the Land," contains mostly new compositions; unfortunately, they are less memorable. "Poet/Poem," for example, features a singsong dialogue that begins: "Where are you, words,/the ones that will fit/the thoughts I am thinking/as here I sit?" Even as they earnestly celebrate the power of language, they are rendered pallid by their uninspired, lackluster vocabulary. The final selection, "I Go to the Land," fails to respond to the promise of the opening poem: "The more I drink/of the falling water,/the more I know./I drink. I think./I grow." The pictures are likewise a mixed bag: while the children depicted are winsome, a number of poems are sparsely illustrated with rather generic objects. All in all, this is a disappointing effort from two distinguished artists.-Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
"In the land / of words, / I stand as still / as a tree / and let the words / rain down on me." With characteristic brightness and simplicity, Greenfield celebrates talking, singing, writing, and reading in 21 poems, all but nine either new or previously uncollected. She divides the selections into two parts: The Poet/The Poem and The Land, choosing obliquely connected subjects for each. Switching from her customary paint to stitched fabric collage, Gilchrist captures that sunny tone, scattering stars, flowers, small everyday objects, and dark-skinned, smiling faces across the wide, uncolored margins. The poet introduces several selections with commentary on their genesis and personal meanings, further enriching this joy-filled, right-on tribute to wordsmithing in all its forms. (author's note) (Poetry. 7-10)

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
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Product dimensions:
8.50(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.25(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Eloise Greenfield's love of writing shines through brilliantly in each and every one of her books, which include Honey, I Love and Other Love Poems and How They Got Over: African Americans and the Call of the Sea, both illustrated by Jan Spivey Gilchrist. She is the recipient of the Coretta Scott King Award, the Foundation for Children's Literature Hope S. Dean Award, and the National Council for the Social Studies Carter G. Woodson Book Award. Ms. Greenfield lives in Washington, DC. You can follow her on Twitter @ELGreenfield.

Jan Spivey Gilchrist is the award-winning illustrator-author of seventy-four children's books. Dr. Gilchrist illustrated the highly acclaimed picture book The Great Migration: Journey to the North, winner of the Coretta Scott King Honor Award, a Junior Library Guild Best Book, an NAACP Image Award nominee, a CCBC Best Book, and a Georgia State Children's Book Award nominee. She won the Coretta Scott King Award for her illustrations in Nathaniel Talking and a Coretta Scott King Honor for her illustrations in Night on Neighborhood Street, all written by Eloise Greenfield. She was inducted into the Society of Illustrators in 2001 and into the International Literary Hall of Fame for Writers of African Descent in 1999. She lives near Chicago, Illinois.

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