From School Library Journal
Grade 5–9—Packaging Blake for this audience is no small challenge. The book begins with a heroic attempt to explain some of his themes and philosophy in a four-page introduction. Maynard speaks of the poet with insight, eloquence, and obvious admiration, but his comments are more likely to be appreciated by adults than by children. He prefaces each poem with explanatory comments that are also thought-provoking and illuminating. They are mostly age-appropriate, but at times they go beyond the intellectual range of middle schoolers. Most of the selections are from Songs of Innocence
and Songs of Experience
. Maynard does not shy away from the fact that many of them have strong Christian images or deal with harsh social themes. The artwork is well matched to the tone of the poems. Cimatoribus's illustrations are at the same time childlike and surreal. The simplified shapes of the figures contrast with the rich, textured colors and reflect the complex nature of the poetry. As a whole, this work does an admirable job of presenting Blake to young people.—Donna Cardon, Provo City Library, UT
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The newest entry in this excellent series offers 31 short poems or very brief extracts from longer ones--enough to provide a sense of Blake's profoundly individual point of view and to turn on readers to his elaborate, fantastical vision of the natural and supernatural realms. Maynard opens with a coherent account of Blake's life and a persuasive explanation of why he is worth knowing, then supplies brief commentary for each poem. He mixes such familiar selections as "The Lamb" and "The Tyger" with less well-known poems, many of which are thematically linked or paired; original spelling is preserved throughout, but unusual words are defined in the margins. The introduction includes just three of Blake's illustrations, but in her own stylized paintings, Cimatoribus effectively captures each poem's mysterious tone and feeling of otherness. John PetersCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved