K-Gr. 3. The Danish poet Rasmussen died in 2002, but award-winning author Nelson has made it possible for his work to reach American children. Rhyming couplets present the adventures of a very long ladder. On the first spread, the ladder maker climbs the ladder, finally disappearing into the sky and off the page. As the ladder walks around the countryside, it encounters others unable to resist the climb, including a farmer, a marching band, animals, and a pair of lovers. The backdrop moves from blue sky to dark clouds as a storm approaches, and Pratt's use of a lightning bolt as a staircase for the climbers to descend is an inventive culmination to the fantasy. Not every translated rhyme is felicitous, but most are jaunty and light, and Pratt's illustrations nicely complement the text; his clever use of cut pages and foldouts allows children to appreciate the ladder's great reach. Abby Nolan
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About the Author
HALFDAN RASMUSSEN's poetry is a fundamental part of the children's literary canon in Denmark; his works are constantly being republished, and many have been set to music. While Rasmussen's children's verse
is loved for its infectious rhyme, his adult-oriented writing is deeply concerned with social issues and human rights. Sadly, Halfdan Rasmussen passed away in 2002, but prior to his death, he granted Ms.
Nelson express permission to produce English versions of his works.
MARILYN NELSON is an award-winning author and poet for adults and children. The recipient of a Newbery Honor for CARVER: A LIFE IN POEMS, she is also a professor of English at the University of
Connecticut at Storrs and Poet Laureate of the State of Connecticut. Of THE LADDER, she says, "One of the lasting joys of the year I spent teaching English in a little college on the west coast of Denmark was
reading the verse of the great Halfdan Rasmussen and being invited to his home. My translations are my gift to him and to English-speaking readers everywhere."
PIERRE PRATT has illustrated and written many award-winning books, including the Very Busy Life of Olaf and Venus series. He says, "When I first read THE LADDER, I knew the only possible thing to do was illustrate the book as an homage to so wonderful a poem and poet. I tried to complement the wit and finesse that the text achieves with words and rhymes in my use of lines, space, and colors." Pierre Pratt is eager to
start work on his next book based on a poem by Halfdan Rasmussen.