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A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams

by Jen Bryant
Illustrated by Melissa Sweet

Published by Eerdmans, 2008
36 pages
ISBN: 978-0-8028-5302-8

Ages 7-10

This is just to say . . . Jen Bryant’s artful and astute picture book biography of poet William Carlos Williams is to be savored, like plums from the icebox. Wonderful language, rich with description and metaphor, provides the underpinning of an informative and accessible narrative that conveys an incredible amount of information about the poet’s life and work. “Instead of counting the beats or making the end-words rhyme, he let each poem find its own special shape on the page.” The Passaic River in Williams’ hometown was a source of inspiration for Williams from childhood on, and Bryant uses the river both literally and as an idea throughout a narrative that is a delicate balance of concrete and lyrical. The judicious use of repetition with the phrase “And it was true” brings readers and listeners back again and again to some of the essential facts that informed and defined the poet’s work and creative life. Melissa Sweet’s watercolor, mixed media and collage illustrations include rich visual images as well as some of the poet’s words. Additional poems appear on the endpapers, and a timeline is includes at the end of this singular volume. Honor Book, 209 Charlotte Zolotow Award (MS)  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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