From School Library Journal
Starred Review. Grade 3–6—This stunning picture-book biography combines a lyrical text with wonderfully creative mixed-media illustrations in an impressive and personable homage to an extraordinary and accomplished man. Bryant's poetic writing—"Gurgle, gurgle—swish, swish, swoosh…. The water went slipping and sliding over the smooth rocks, then poured in a torrent over the falls, then quieted again below"—describes beautifully how, as a child, Williams would lie peacefully by the Passaic River, listening to the sounds of the water; he appreciated nature and the ordinary experiences of life. Book pages form a background for some of the illustrations and prescription pads become the paper for the doctor's poetic scribbling. A lovely spread shows a display of constellations while in the foreground, the poet sits framed in the light of an attic window, with one of his poems about a night sky laid out on a book cover. Williams's poems, which appear in the book in a variety of colors and fonts as part of the art, are highlighted in uniform type with standard line breaks on the inside cover pages. A time line of his life juxtaposed with a list of world events, a brief author's note about his significance as a poet, and an illustrator's note that explains how Sweet researched the project are appended.—Kirsten Cutler, Sonoma County Library, CA
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Bryant follows Call Me Marianne (2006), about Marianne Moore, with another picture-book introduction to a poet. Here, she focuses on William Carlos Williams, and she begins by suggesting that Williams’ childhood love of nature inspired the free forms and rhythms he chose for his first adolescent poems. During his adult medical career, Williams “scribbled a few lines . . . wherever he could,” composing his enduring, beloved body of work. The free-verse line breaks in Bryant’s text sometimes feel arbitrary, but her simple, spare language matches her subject well. Sweet’s mixed-media collages will draw varying age groups. Younger children will connect with the childlike drawings of figures, while older kids (and even young-adult art students) will appreciate the artfully layered paper compositions that include lines of Williams’ poetry. A comprehensive time line of Williams’ life targeted toward older kids (and teachers), suggestions for further reading, and a selection of Williams’ poems close this inspiring title that, like Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan’s Action Jackson (2002), shows that an artist’s work begins with deep, quiet observation. Grades 2-5. --Gillian Engberg
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