Review of A River of Words, by Jen Bryant


A River of Words

The Story of William Carlos Williams

written by Jen Bryant

illustrated by Melissa Sweet

Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2008.  36 pages.

2009 Caldecott Honor Book.

Here’s a simple picture book biography of the poet William Carlos Williams, but it’s done with excellence.

The collage artwork in this book is noteworthy, recalling the modern art that influenced William Carlos Williams.  The artist used covers from old books, among other things, and created evocative and beautiful illustrations of the poems and of the poet’s life.

The story is told simply, with a taste of actual poems he wrote (and several are written on the endpapers).  The author tells about how the other activities and interests of his life influenced and shaped his poetry, but how poetry was a constant from childhood on.

An inviting and interesting picture book biography.  Isn’t that what a picture book biography should do?  Introduce an interesting person and provide a look into his life that entices you to want to know more.  (And there is a time line of his life and a list for further reading at the back.)

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