What the Heart Knows: Chants, Charms, and Blessingsby Joyce Sidman, Pamela Zagarenski (Illustrator)
What the Heart Knows: Chants, Charms, and Blessings is a collection of poems to provide comfort, courage, and humor at difficult or daunting moments in life. It conjures forth laments, spells, invocations, chants, blessings, promises, songs, and charms. Here are pleas on how to repair a friendship, wishes to transform one’s/i>
What the Heart Knows: Chants, Charms, and Blessings is a collection of poems to provide comfort, courage, and humor at difficult or daunting moments in life. It conjures forth laments, spells, invocations, chants, blessings, promises, songs, and charms. Here are pleas on how to repair a friendship, wishes to transform one’s life or to slow down time, charms to face the shame of a disapproving crowd, invocations to ask for forgiveness, to understand the mysteries of happiness, and to bravely face a dark and different world. These words help us remember or grieve; they bolster courage and guard against evil; they help us celebrate and give thanks. This elegant gift book also includes a red ribbon for readers to mark their favorite poems.
Poet extraordinaire Joyce Sidman won the Newbery Honor Medal for Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night and continues to write poetry for children that has been called "fresh," "inspiring," and "accessible" to her young audience. She is intrigued by the idea of "words of power"—chants and charms that were once believed to have real influence in everyday life. Caldecott Honor-winning Pamela Zagarenski's beautiful art captures a world of emotion and the essence of Sidman's words.
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Profound, lushly illustrated poems explore some of life's more trying moments. . . . A winning combination of word and image sure to challenge readers both to contemplate big subjects and to act."
—Kirkus, starred review
"An evocative book that pulls readers to a special placetheir hearts."
—Booklist, starred review
"Readers just edging toward adult poetry and those filling their notebooks with their own lyrics will find this elegant little title perfect for poetic dreams."
—The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"Poetry fans will savor the wordplay and whimsy, as teachers appreciate both its craft and wide appeal. Poetry fans will savor the wordplay and whimsy, as teachers appreciate both its craft and wide appeal."
—School Library Journal
"Each poem speaks directly from Sidman's heart to the reader's, addressing subjects of deep importance . . . Zagarenski's illustrations beautifully extend the poems with her dreamy style and deft use of white space, symbolism, and images from Sidman's text."
—The Horn Book Magazine, starred review
Gr 5–8—In their latest collaboration, Sidman and Zagarenski invite readers to ponder the power of words. Arranged in four sections, 29 brief poems include chants and charms; spells and invocations; laments and remembrances; and praise songs and blessings. By turns hopeful and comedic, melancholic and wistful, they touch on universal themes: lost love, the uneasiness of change, and the comfort of pets. Many kids will relate to the nostalgia and regret for the packed-away toy in "Lament for Teddy": "Where is that softest of bedfellows,/whose battered nose hung askew?" Other highlights include "Chant to Repair a Friendship," "Invitation to Lost Things," and "Heartless." Zagarenski's mixed-media paintings underscore Sidman's words, sometimes with subtle use of white space and muted color. Others burst from the page in spectacular fashion, especially the painting of stony-faced lions that accompanies "Song of Bravery" and its stirring conclusion: "…here I go, stepping out/through the door/of my own shadow:/into the glare of the arena/to face the lions." Poetry fans will savor the wordplay and whimsy, as teachers appreciate both its craft and wide appeal. This spectacular volume rewards careful reading and capably attests to the power of words to praise and comfort, heal and inspire, as in the rousing "Starting Now": "It is time to…speak until the air/holds all of our voices./Time to weave for each other/a garment of brightness."—Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA
Profound, lushly illustrated poems explore some of life's more trying moments. In their third collaboration, Sidman and Zagarenski (Red Sings from the Treetops: A Year in Colors, 2009, etc.) combine their Newbery Honor– and Caldecott Honor–worthy talents to tackle life's more ineffable conditions. Lyrically arranging the collection's 29 poems into groupings such as "Chants & Charms" and "Laments & Remembrances," Sidman takes a serious look at a number of moments likely to concern young teens. The volume's title bespeaks the tricky blend of rationality and emotion inherent in often baffling situations like aging, loss, and loneliness, and Sidman employs deftly sophisticated verse to engage them head on. Especially provocative is her direct address of a subject like happiness-- "Happiness, you're like a breeze / sucked in by eager lungs. / You fill and feed us, / and yet somehow, in the exhale, / you are shared"--coupled with Zagarenski's richly layered, slightly surreal depiction of a figure trying to catch this transitory state. In many spreads, the abstract suggestiveness of Zagarenski's fanciful mixed-media paintings and digital renderings contrasts wonderfully with Sidman's bold metaphors, as in "Blessing from the Stars": "We are the stars. / We sing with our light /… / alone, / together." A winning combination of word and image sure to challenge young readers both to contemplate big subjects and to act. (Poetry. 12 & up)
- Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
- Publication date:
- Sales rank:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.70(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.50(d)
- Age Range:
- 12 - 17 Years
Read an Excerpt
Chant to Repair a Friendship
Come, friend, forgive the past;
I was wronga dn I am grieving.
Tell me that this break won’t last—
take my hand; forgive the past.
Anger’s brief, but love is vast.
Take my hand; don’t think of leaving.
Come, friend, forgive the past;
I was wrong and I am grieving.
you’re not what everyone says:
some flashy friend
who shows up with fireworks,
trailing fame and glory.
You are more like a raindrop,
governed by mysterious principles.
You fall from the sky and hit—plop!—with
a cool kiss of surprise.
Or maybe you’re a heartbeat,
speaking in your low, soft voice,
pumping, warming, strengthening
under the surface of things,
just doing your work.
Happiness, you’re like a breeze
sucked in by eager lungs.
You fill and feed us,
and yet somehow, in the exhale,
you are shared.
come to us, Happiness.
Bathe us with your cool spray.
Fill us with your splendid breath.
Help us do your work.
Chant Against the Dark
Don’t come close, dark.
Don’t brush my face with your sticky hands.
Stay as cool and distant as a train whistle.
Don’t single me out,
don’t make me answer your questions.
Let me curl here, safe in my circle of light.
Don’t come close, dark.
Don’t speak to me in your crooked tongue.
I don’t want to hear your stories.
I have stories of my own to tell myself all night.
Don’t come close, dark.
Don’t breathe on me.
When the lamp clicks off,
don’t creak and shift
like some wild-eyed horse
waiting for its rider.
don’t call my name.
Song of Bravery
This one’s not a sure thing.
I’m not bound to win.
I don’t think I’ll ace it this time.
I won’t break a leg,
make my own luck,
or reach the stars.
The sun is not shining on me today.
The force is not strong.
Before the day is out,
I’ll taste the grit of dust.
Maybe I didn’t do all I could.
Or maybe I did
but there were others who did more.
Maybe I’ll never know.
But here I go—
bones clicking quietly together,
blood flowing dutifully
from heart to hands and back again—
here I go, stepping out
through the door
of my own shadow:
into the glare of the arena
to face the lions.
Meet the Author
The Newbery Honor winner Joyce Sidman is today's foremost nature poet for children. Accolades for her books include two Caldecott Honors, a Lee Bennet Hopkins Award, winner of the Claudia Lews Award, and many stars and best of lists. For her award-winning body of work, she won the Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children. She lives in Wayzata, Minnesota. Visit www.joycesidman.com
Pamela Zagarenski is the winner of two Caldecott Honors. The books she has illustrated have also been Booklist Editor's Choices, Horn Book Fanfare and Bulletin Blue Ribbon books, winners of Bank Street's Claudia Lewis Award, and translated into many languages. As well as illustrating picture books, she creates paintings and has a gift card line. She lives in Connecticut. Visit www.pzagarenski.com.
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Terrific little book to pick up and read anytime for inspiration.