How do you describe a book about color?
Saying “it’s colorful” seems slightly redundant and more than slightly unhelpful.
How do you describe a book about color and the alphabet?
If I say, “It’s appealing and interesting,” that doesn’t quite tell you anything. It’s like saying a poetry collection is “luminous” or “breathtaking.”
How do you describe a book that is about color and the alphabet and may also help with literacy programs, or simply help teach children to read?
I know how I would describe that book.
And it’s more. It’s 26 pictures and fewer than 200 words that easily combine to make the book a work of poetry.
It’s not a poetry collection. But it could be.
It’s not 26 possible poetry prompts. But it could be that, too. (Actually, it could be far more than 26 poetry prompts.)
It’s not a school lesson plan, but it may be the most interesting and intriguing school lesson plan I’ve ever seen (and I do substitute teaching, so I see a lot of school lesson plans).
B is for brass
a brass-petaled field
C is for cranberry
a cranberry twirl
D is for denim
a denim-blue sea
Consider walking through that brass-petaled field, where all of the flowers must be polished, and regularly. Or biking to Baskin-Robbins and ordering a cranberry twirl ice cream, with a little umbrella (cranberry-colored, of course) as a garnish. Or swimming in that denim-blue sea where the starfish all wear blue jeans. Why else would the sea be denim-blue?
Do you see what’s going on here? A is for Azure uses words, color, and imagination to create fun—pure, unadulterated, and colorful fun.
And pure, unadulterated beauty.
Those 26 illustrations by Falcone are madly, truly, and deeply beautiful. Some are representational; others are impressionistic or abstract. To consider those artworks is to wander through a museum of the mind, stopping to consider what each means, seeing what’s apparent and then being drawn into what else is there. I caught myself just staring several times.
I don’t have a favorite picture. I have 26 favorite pictures, with a slight partiality to emerald, kiwi, and orange. Not to mention vermilion. And midnight. And purple. I like lilac, too. And there are others.
Let’s leave it at 26 favorite pictures.
A is for Azure is itself a beautiful object. It could just be that—a beautiful object to look at and appreciate. But it is also beauty that works, and does things, and stimulates, and inspires things.
It’s something wonderful. Something full of childlike wonder.
How to Read a Poem uses images like the mouse, the hive, the switch (from the Billy Collins poem)—to guide readers into new ways of understanding poems. Anthology included.
“I require all our incoming poetry students—in the MFA I direct—to buy and read this book.”
—Jeanetta Calhoun Mish
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