This collection of Esbensen's poems, organized by season, is as linguistically exquisite and fresh as it was when it first appeared in 1965, but the artistic pairings are unfortunately not of the same consistently high quality. Each artist takes one season. Both Chee and Gammell respond to Esbensen's poetry with imagination and wit, inviting readers into the dense imagery. A spread by Chee (Old Turtle), for instance, dramatically introduces "Spring," with an eruption of color resembling dogwood blossoms and newly unfurled leaves. His closing spread for "Robin" depicts the birds as both witness to and part of the season's quiet theatrics ("Does he hear the grass grow,/ Seeds split wide?"), and his use of color circles back to his opening palette. Gammell's swirling strokes of icy aqua and cornflower blue (which recall his Is That You, Winter?) by turns convey frolicsome children (e.g., "We glitter and fly/ Beneath the sky" in "Skating") and a mystical presence (as in "The Wind Woman"). On the other hand, Porter (Aunt Clara Brown) and GrandPr (The Sea Chest) seem at times to favor design at the expense of a poem's tone or substance. For example, "The Cove," with its stark language ("Spars, half-buried,/ Bleach there on the stones") suggests a darker, more brooding mood than the somersaulting seagulls pictured. But Esbensen's poems are so delicate and layered in metaphor, and some of the artwork so spectacular, that this updated edition will appeal to a wide variety of readers. Ages 4-7. (Mar.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Twenty poems celebrate the seasons in Swing Around the Sun. Award-winning poet Barbara Juster Esbensen had an amazing ability to create arresting images, from the finch's "flowing yellow note" to the summer sky's "fiery garden" of fireworks. This edition, published posthumously, selects from Esbensen's first book of verse, released thirty-eight years ago. Four acclaimed artists—Cheng-Khee Chee, Janice Lee Porter, Mary GrandPre and Stephen Gammell—contribute artwork. The result is a visual feast, with a different mood created for each season. Especially intriguing are GrandPre's wraithlike autumn images and Gammell's mysterious wind woman for winter. Parents and teachers of young poets inspired by this book might wish to check out Esbensen's text A Celebration of Bees: Helping Children Write Poetry. 2003 (orig. 1965), Carolrhoda, Ages 3 to 10.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 4-A well-loved collection of seasonal poems, first published in 1965, is revived for a new generation, creating a rich, vibrant reading and viewing experience. Although the number of selections has been reduced by eight, the poetry's impact is heightened by masterful new illustrations from four distinguished artists. The verses evoke seasonal symbols well known to children-wind, umbrellas, fireworks, apples, snow-yet Esbensen defies clich , encouraging readers to greet these familiar omens with fresh ears and eyes, as in "Umbrellas": "Under my umbrella-top,/Splashing through the town,/I wonder why the tulips/Hold umbrellas/Up-side-down!" In the poet's year, each season breathes with a life and spirit of its own, as in "Autumn Concert": "Together,/In the sapphire sky/They float:/The milkweed/And a burnished/Trumpet note." The illustrations transcend the standard pastel springs and whitewashed winters. Cheng-Khee Chee's textured watercolors sprout and bloom across the pages of "Spring." Janice Lee Porter's "Summer" oil pastels hum with energetic color and sinuous shapes. Mary GrandPr ushers in fall with a warmer palette of pastels, lighting Esbensen's poems in ruby red and amber. Finally, Stephen Gammell's snowscapes, spattered in icy grays and blues, capture winter's wild spirit. An exceptional marriage of poetry and art that will encourage children to write and illustrate their own seasonal poems, this book has broad appeal and instructional potential across the calendar and curriculum. A must-have for any library.-Eve Ortega, Cypress Library, CA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
This collection of seasonal poetry by the late Esbensen (The Night Rainbow, not reviewed, etc.) was previously published in the '60s in a slightly longer length with black and white illustrations. This new edition of 20 poems uses a different artist to illustrate the poems for each of the four seasons, requiring the necessary visual adjustment to shifting artistic styles inherent in this format. In the first section, Cheng-Khee Chee chose mossy greens and grays for his springtime watercolor illustrations, with the impressionistic, misty overtones of a wet, early spring. For the summer selections, Janice Lee Porter's acrylic paintings incorporate lush tones and curving lines to illustrate the fullness of the season in poems about a vacant lot, ripe pears, and a sudden storm. Mary GrandPré, illustrator of the American edition of the Harry Potter stories, illustrated the autumn poems in fall hues on deep-toned backgrounds that convey the spooky side of the season, concluding with a transitional poem that predicts the changes inherent in winter. Caldecott Medalist Stephen Gammell effectively captures the mood of northern winters in his bright white and deep blue paintings, with splashes of flying snowflakes. Some of the volume's best poems celebrate the serious winters of Esbensen's home state of Minnesota, with an eerie ode called "The Wind Woman" and a memorable final poem about a little girl walking through deep snow at night. Almost all of the short poems rhyme, but the varied and sophisticated rhyme schemes show the range of the poet's extraordinary talent. (biographical notes, publisher note) (Poetry. 4-8)