Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Paul Fleischman

Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices
by Paul Fleischman
Recommended Age: 10+

The winner of the 1989 Newbery Medal is one of the most attractive, yet unusual, books ever to win that award. That much you can gather from the front cover, with its drawing of a butterfly playing a tambourine.

It is a short book, and it doesn’t have a plot, so there isn’t much to say about it in summary, except for four points:

The book contains 14 poems, each written in 2 parallel columns, for two people to read out loud at the same time. So in a way, it’s a piece of music.

The poems are all about different kinds of insects. They’re full of interesting information. So, in a way, the book is a science lesson.

The insects’ stories are told with humor, romance, sadness, and sparkling energy. So, in a way, it’s a book of dramatic sketches.

Every page is decorated with gorgeous illustrations by Eric Beddows. So, in a way, it’s a work of art.

If I were to say any more, my review would be longer than the book. Parents and teachers: this should be in your kids’ library. Kids: this is a book to be read out loud, by at least two people, if not a whole group divided into two “choirs.” It isn’t long, but it rewards practice and repetition – so you may get a lot of enjoyment out of it.

And if you do like it, you can look for Paul Fleischman’s other books of poetry for 2 or even 4 voices, as well as the impressive titles of picture books, novels, and non-fiction works that are listed in this book – titles such as The Borning Room, Cannibal in the Mirror and A Fate Totally Worse Than Death.

No comments: