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A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams

By: Jen Bryant

Illustrator: Melissa Sweet

"There is a bird in the poplars! / It is the sun! / The leaves are little yellow fish / swimming in the river." William Carlos Williams grew up in Rutherford, New Jersey, and later became a family doctor in his hometown. "Willie" discovered his love of poetry in high school. At first, he imitated the formality of traditional verse, but he gradually developed a distinctive style that let "each poem find its own special shape on the page." Includes poems and excerpts. Time line. Author's and illustrator's notes. Further reading. Black-and-white photograph of poet. Full-color watercolor, collage, and mixed-media illustrations. A 2009 Caldecott Honor Book and a 2009 Charlotte Zolotow Honor Book. A 2009 NCTE Orbis Pictus Recommended Book.

ISBN: 9780802853028

JLG Release: Dec 2008


Sensitive Areas: None
Topics: William Carlos Williams (1883-1963) , Rutherford, New Jersey , The Passaic River , Poetry , Inspiration , Poetic innovation , Medical careers

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Awards & Honors

2009 Caldecott, Honor Book; 2009 Charlotte Zolotow Honor Book; 2009 NCTE Orbis Pictus Recommended Book; NCSS Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People 2009, World History and Culture; 2008New York Time10 Best Illustrated Books | 2008 School Library JournalBest Books, Nonfiction

Praise & Reviews

Starred or favorable reviews have been received from these periodicals:

Booklist, The Horn Book Guide, Kirkus Reviews*, School Library Journal*

Horn Book

This picture book biography tells of the doctor/poet who kept his childhood observations alive by writing about them. Typeset fragments of Williams's most famous works ("so much depends / upon / a red wheel / barrow") dance across many of the pages. Comfortably cluttered mixed-media collages convey his similarly messy creative process. Reading list This picture book biography tells of the doctor/poet who kept his childhood observations alive by writing about them. Typeset fragments of Williams's most famous works ("so much depends / upon / a red wheel / barrow") dance across many of the pages. Comfortably cluttered mixed-media collages convey his similarly messy creative process. Reading list, timeline.

Junior Library Guild

Gorgeous only begins to describe this carefully researched and thoughtfully crafted book. An opening portrait of William Carlos Williams appears opposite an epigraph excerpted from his poem, “Pastoral”: “When I was younger / it was plain to me / I must make something of myself.” It is the perfect introduction to Williams, who managed to wri Gorgeous only begins to describe this carefully researched and thoughtfully crafted book. An opening portrait of William Carlos Williams appears opposite an epigraph excerpted from his poem, “Pastoral”: “When I was younger / it was plain to me / I must make something of myself.” It is the perfect introduction to Williams, who managed to write forty-eight books of poetry and prose while maintaining a family practice for more than forty years.

Jen Bryant describes Williams as a boy who loved to play baseball and wander in the woods, as a busy high school student who discovered that he “did not feel hurried” when his teacher read poetry aloud, and as a poet who found that focusing on everyday experiences and developing his own writing style let him feel “. . . as free as the Passaic River as it rushed to the falls.”

In keeping with the title, words flow through nearly every one of Melissa Sweet’s illustrations in a mix of hand-lettered, typewritten, and printed forms. A page describing how Dr. Williams “delivered babies, healed hurts and bruises, set broken bones, and wrote prescriptions,” is illustrated with paintings of the doctor and his patients on a background of old medical textbook pages and a ledger. The phrase “so much depends upon” from Williams’s “The Red Wheelbarrow” emerges from the typewriter on his desk, and a variation is tucked into the corner of the collage. The opposite page displays multiple typed versions of the entire poem, each with different line breaks and cross-outs, simulating the writer experimenting with an idea and revising his poem. The ingenious presentation of this and other poems creates connections between the man and his work and allows readers to feel as though they’re witnesses to the creative process.

This is an exquisite look at an important American poet.

Book Details

ISBN

9780802853028

First Release

December 2008

Genre

Biography.

Dewey Classification

811.'52

Trim Size

9" x 10"

Page Count

34

Accelerated Reader

Level 4.6; Points: 0.5;

Scholastic Reading Counts

Level 5.4; Points: 3;

Lexile

N/A

Format

Print Book

Edition

-

Publisher

Eerdmans

Potentially Sensitive Areas

None

Topics

William Carlos Williams (1883-1963), Rutherford, New Jersey, The Passaic River, Poetry, Inspiration, Poetic innovation, Medical careers,

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