Today, in honor of World Poetry Day and the changing of the seasons, we read a book of poems by renowned Children’s author Margaret Wise Brown: “A Celebration of the Seasons”. Although I am by no means a poetry aficionado (I lean toward Shel Silverstein, “The Raven”, and silly limericks), I think that this book of posthumously published nature poems inspired by Ms. Brown’s childhood on Long Island is a very attractive piece of work. It is a delightful combination of lilting prose and beautiful artwork, even if I didn’t absolutely love all the poems.
Published in late 2015, “A Celebration of the Seasons” is actually the second collection of previously unpublished poems by Ms. Brown. As in the first volume, “Goodnight Songs,” each of the twelve poems in “A Celebration of the Seasons” is illustrated by a different artist, and the results are impressive. We had a hard time picking favorites from this collection. I was particularly fond of “the song of tiny cat” about a diminutive banjo-playing feline who is so small that he uses a ladybug for a pillow. I thought Blanca Gomez’s “handmade collage” fit the mood of the poem perfectly, and her little cat made me smile. Our oldest singled out “Fall of the Year” – mostly because of Leo Espinosa’s joyful picture of a little girl dancing among the falling leaves on an autumn day in New England. In truth, however, nearly every one of the two-page spreads in the book is a treat for the eyes.
I recommend taking time to read the introduction and end notes of the book. The introduction provides a brief biography of Ms. Brown and sheds some light not only on her love of nature, but her love of poetry and music. One observation from the introduction that really struck me was her belief that if she could sing the words to a story or poem she wrote, then she knew it had the right tempo (the book actually comes with a CD of songs to go with the poems, but I have not listened to it in detail). The end notes include blurbs about each of the artists, along with brief descriptions from each of how they went about creating their illustrations. It’s fascinating stuff that makes me appreciate the book that much more – and it’s the kind of thing I probably would not have taken the time to read before embarking on our storybook year.