Paint Me a Poem: Poems Inspired by Masterpieces of Art

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Overview

As she composed these thirteen poems, Justine Rowden wondered how a child would respond to the glorious paintings she viewed in the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. Now she shows readers that paintings don't need to be understood by children in an art-historyish way; when adults stand back and let children react with abandon, their responses will amaze everyone. And their appreciation of art will soar.

These poems are sprightly, elliptical, sometimes silly, sometimes ...

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Overview

As she composed these thirteen poems, Justine Rowden wondered how a child would respond to the glorious paintings she viewed in the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. Now she shows readers that paintings don't need to be understood by children in an art-historyish way; when adults stand back and let children react with abandon, their responses will amaze everyone. And their appreciation of art will soar.

These poems are sprightly, elliptical, sometimes silly, sometimes serious. They teach us that it's okay to simply bask in a painting's colors, or to look at just one detail, or to daydream while gazing at it. Justine Rowden's poems capture a child's imaginings--they could have been written by a child.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
Thirteen paintings from the National Gallery of Art are presented here in reproductions large enough for group viewing and clear enough to show appealing details. A wide variety of artists, from Andre Derain to Goya and Renoir, have been chosen with a thumbnail introduction to each artist included at the book's end. Unfortunately, the poetry is uneven and less appealing than the art, although the format, fonts and colorful presentation somewhat compensate for the verse. In one of the better pairings of verse and art, Mark Rothko's "Untitled" painting in red is shown with a poem describing the layers from "rosy red that starts at the bottom" like a softened breeze to the dark red at the top, "a wild, furious gust that makes kites somersault." Rowden's book will be accessible to a younger audience than similar books such as Talking to the Sun, Heart to Heart and Celebrate America in Poetry and Art. While some of the poetry and the large format will draw children to this book as a read-aloud, other poems are difficult to read aloud. A wise teacher or parent might just show the pictures and have children create their own stories. 2005, Boyds Mills Press, Ages 8 to 12.
—Augusta Scattergood
School Library Journal
Gr 1-4-Rowder responded to 14 paintings that she saw at the National Gallery of Art by writing a poem about each one. Jan Greenberg's Heart to Heart (Abrams, 2001) similarly asked modern poets to write in response to modern paintings. That book works brilliantly while this one falls flat. The selections here don't really seem to reflect the tone and mood of the art that inspired them. For example, an enigmatic da Vinci portrait, Ginevra de' Benci, elicits nothing more than comments about her hairstyle: "Twirling/Curls twirling/Like water/Whirling,/Swirling;/Chasing/Racing/Curlicues." Alfred Sisley's Meadow is reduced to "The sky is full/Of fuzzy white polka dots-." The reproductions of the paintings are good and the book concludes with notes about the artists, but both the art and artists deserve much more.-Kathleen Whalin, York Public Library, ME Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Rowden pairs 14 paintings from the National Gallery with prosaic ruminations about their colors, imagined commentary from their subjects or observations on a selected detail. The art, which includes two American folk paintings, Leonardo's Ginevra de' Benci and works from the likes of Renoir, Derain and Rothko, is reproduced with fair fidelity, labeled on the page and followed up at the end with paragraphs of random facts about each artist. Though the designer tries hard to pump up the poems with changes of color, line shape and typeface, there's not much that can be done with lines like, "The ladies with hats that flatter / Don't permit cups to clatter / Nor tea to splatter / On silvery platters," ("Oh So Perfect") or "The sky is full / Of fuzzy white polka dots." ("Moving White Fluffs"). With better pairings of art and words like Jan Greenberg's Heart To Heart (2001), Charles Sullivan's Imaginary Gardens (1989) or the classic Talking to the Sun (1985) available, this is an additional item at best. (Poetry. 7-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781590782897
  • Publisher: Boyds Mills Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/2005
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 6 - 10 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.80 (w) x 11.20 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Justine Rowden collects sounds that tumble and twirl to put in poems for children. She is a writer and teacher whose work at the National Portrait Gallery made her keenly aware of how we need new ways to look at art. She lives outside of Washington, D.C., with her husband.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2005

    Teacher and Alert!

    This gorgeous book can be a wonderful addition to a classroom writing program. The author uses beautiful paintings from the National Gallery of Art as inspiration for original poems. You can share these with a class and talk about the art and the poems. Ask students to think about how the paintings make them feel, what they notice in the paintings, what connections they make to these wonderful images. Then students can write their own responses -- either in poetry or prose. It is not often that one finds a book of this caliber to use as a model for creative writing. Carla Heymsfeld, Elementary School Reading Specialist

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