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.
A is for Azure by L.L. Barkat and illustrated by Donna Z. Falcone is truly something wonderful. It’s about color and the alphabet. It’s about using color and the alphabet to help with literacy.
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.
Literacy Extras at Tweetspeak Poetry
5 Picture Books to Make the School Year Beautiful—And Why Beauty Even Matters for Kids—at Huffington Post
Consider the colors fuchsia and heliotrope
Photo by Ivy Florence, Creative Commons, via Flickr. Post by Glynn Young, author of the novels Dancing Priest and A Light Shining, and Poetry at Work.
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
- Poets and Poems: Bruce Beasley and “Prayershreds” - May 30, 2023
- Poets and Poems: James Sale and “StairWell” - May 23, 2023
- Poets and Poems: Catherine Esposito Prescott and “Accidental Garden” - May 16, 2023
Sandra Heska King says
I’m getting rather bored with my plain old green iguana.
Best review ever.
I don’t think I knew you were a substitute teacher.
I’ve been substituting for the past year – junior high and high school. Sometimes I even know the subjects!
Sandra Heska King says
Bethany R. says
Love this review. I keep chuckling at the thought of starfish wearing jeans, Glynn. For some reason I also include black leather belts in this imagined scenario. Maybe to prevent the current from washing away their pants? #avoidembarrassmentsatsea #echinodermsfordignity
I’d like to be / under the sea / in an octupus’s garden / in the shade
That’s starfishes favorite song.
Glynn, I’m speechless, but giggle-full. This is such a beautiful surprise. And thank you for settling the question of the origin of the denim blue sea.
LL worked such magic here, and I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of it!
Love “giggle-ful” ! Made me smile wide:)
And Bethany: Along with the denim blue jeans and black leather belts would red bandanas and a blue & white striped engineers cap top off the outfit?!;)
Sharon A Gibbs says
Absolutely, undeniably, categorically the best of the best.
In total agreement and breathless, under the sea.
Megan Willome says
Best. Review. Ever.