When I Was a Boy Neruda Called Me Policarpo

Overview


Poli Délano’s real name is Enrique. But when his mother was expecting him, Pablo Neruda, the great Chilean poet, took to calling him Policarpo. The name stuck and today Enrique Délano, also a noted Chilean writer, is still known as Poli. Besides his nickname, Poli Délano owes many happy childhood memories to Neruda. For a time, he and his parents, who were Chilean diplomats, lived in Mexico with the poet, his wife Delia, and their ornery pet badger. This delightful book recalls the period when he saw the ...
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Overview


Poli Délano’s real name is Enrique. But when his mother was expecting him, Pablo Neruda, the great Chilean poet, took to calling him Policarpo. The name stuck and today Enrique Délano, also a noted Chilean writer, is still known as Poli. Besides his nickname, Poli Délano owes many happy childhood memories to Neruda. For a time, he and his parents, who were Chilean diplomats, lived in Mexico with the poet, his wife Delia, and their ornery pet badger. This delightful book recalls the period when he saw the fun-loving, eccentric Nerudas nearly every day. He learned a wide array of things from the man he called Tío Pablo — how to swim, what fate is, how to eat grasshoppers, how to talk to the spider-woman at the fair, and how to stand up to Nazis and bullies. Neruda’s almost childlike sense of joy, his love of nature, and his great enthusiasm for the world resonates with young readers.
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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
Interspersed with the chapters in this brief memoir are translations of six poems by Pablo Neruda, winner of the 1971 Nobel Prize in Literature. Since Delano's Chilean diplomat parents were close friends of Neruda and his wife and lived with them for a while in Mexico, Delano grew up knowing him as Uncle Pablo. Neruda's affection for his pet badger—later given to a zoo because of its vicious attacks—his fistfight with Nazi sympathizers in a restaurant, and his delight in nature are all presented in lively detail that gives a unique picture of the man. His kindness, generosity, and eccentricity are shown in his relationship with Poli. He takes the young boy to see the Spider Woman at the fair and crawls around the garden with him lifting rocks and moving fallen tree trunks to find the insects underneath. He gives him foam goggles so that he can open his eyes under water. He and his wife take Poli to see the ruins in Oaxaca, and Neruda buys and shares a bag of cooked grasshoppers with the boy. At the end of the book, Poli tells how he tried to earn money for special treats by selling gum and guarding parked cars outside the cinema. When he is beaten up by the boys who do the same jobs to earn money for their families, Neruda makes him see the difference between indulgence and necessity. Showing the poet through a child's perspective makes for a distinctive and charming book. Full-page illustrations begin each chapter and a brief biography of Neruda follows the text. 2006, Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press, Ages 9 to 12.
—Judy DaPolito
School Library Journal
Gr 5 Up-Based on the author's childhood remembrances of when he and his diplomat parents lived with "Tio Pablo" in Mexico, these seven chapters reveal both the genius and the eccentricities of the Nobel Prize-winning Chilean poet. Delano tells of his adventures with the Nerudas' unusual pets, El Nino the badger and Renata the tarantula; of seeing the Tarzans of Acapulco; and, most importantly, of the life lessons that Neruda taught him. These included everything from how to eat grasshoppers to the importance of standing up for one's beliefs, particularly in the face of political injustice. The chapters are short, well written, and filled with interesting details that will open up a new and exotic world to intermediate readers. A translation of one of Neruda's poems appears between each chapter. The selections, though, except for the more accessible "Poetry" or "The Great Tablecloth," are rather difficult, and young readers will need help and encouragement to discuss them. A biographical note gives a concise account of Neruda's place in the worlds of poetry and politics, and it will serve as good background information for class discussions on his life. Monroy's pen-and-sepia-toned drawings at the head of each chapter capture the innocence of D lano and the adventuresome spirit of his tio. They are at times humorous, at times dramatic, but always enticing, and they serve as a good indication of what the chapter will reveal. A refreshing addition to celebrity-studded biography collections in need of some literary substance.-Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, LaSalle Academy, Providence, RI Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Chilean poet Delano recalls his childhood contact with the eccentric Nobel Prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda in this unusual memoir. The son of Chilean diplomats living in Mexico during WWII, he was eight when his parents lived with Neruda and his wife Delia. "My childhood memories are filled with the things that happened during those days-my adventures with T'o Pablo," writes Poli. A larger-than-life figure, Neruda impresses young Poli with his unusual tastes and political opinions. On one occasion, Neruda's pet badger, El Ni-o, attacks Poli, and he observes Neruda eating grasshoppers, worms and ants. On a trip to Acapulco, Neruda gives Poli goggles, so he can explore underwater flora and fauna. He witnesses Neruda's anti-fascist politics when they encounter insolent Germans in a restaurant. But Neruda also teaches Poli the meaning of fate and competition. Deceptively simple tan-and-grey illustrations evoke the wartime era. This very personal and engaging account captures the childlike fantasy and enthusiasm of a literary giant while introducing readers to a sampling of his poems. (prologue, biographical note) (Biography. 8-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780888997265
  • Publisher: Groundwood Books
  • Publication date: 5/28/2006
  • Pages: 96
  • Sales rank: 1,003,674
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 0.70 (d)

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