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The Centaur by May Swenson, Sherry Meidell

Can it be there was only one summer that I was ten?

First published in 1956, May Swenson’s "The Centaur" remains one of her most popular and most anthologized poems. This is its first appearance as a picture book for children. In images bright and brisk and tangible, the poet re-creates the joy of riding a stick horse through a small-town summer. We find ourselves, with her, straddling “a long limber horse with . . . a few leaves for a tail,” and pounding through the lovely dust along the path by the old canal. As her shape shifts from child to horse and back, we know exactly what she feels.

Sherry Meidell’s water-color illustrations perfectly convey the wit and beauty of May Swenson’s poem. These are playful, satisfying images full of vitality and imagination. Meidell handles the joy of poem’s  fantasy and the joy of its occasional naughtiness with equal success.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780874216486
Publisher: Utah State University Press
Publication date: 09/01/2007
Edition description: 1
Pages: 32
Product dimensions: 8.50(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range: 4 - 10 Years

About the Author

May Swenson was born in Logan, Utah in 1913, the first of ten children. As a child, she played in the willows and along a canal that carried water from the nearby mountains through her small town, just as the speaker in "The Centaur" does. Eleven volumes of her poetry were published during her lifetime, earning her dozens of awards, membership in the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, and the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship. During the last years of her life, she served as a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. May died in 1989 and is buried less than a mile from her canal in “The Centaur.”

Sherry Meidell lives in West Bountiful, Utah, and coincidentally spent many childhood summers near May Swenson's home. A member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, she specializes in brushes and watercolor with pencil for detail. The Centaur is the ninth book she has illustrated.

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