The Bell in the Bridge by Ted Kooser

The Bell in the Bridge by Ted Kooser

The Bell in the Bridge by Ted Kooser, illustrated by Barry Root (InfoSoup)

Stuck at his dull grandparents’ house in the summer, Charlie is left alone most of the time. He spends time down by the stream collecting tadpoles, using his weed-whacking stick, and dropping stones from the iron bridge that crosses the stream. One day, he discovers that when he hits the bridge with a stone, it rings like a bell and echoes down the valley. He does this again and again and sometimes there seems to be a faint third “bong” that sounds. His grandmother explains that that is just how echoes work, but Charlie is sure that there is another person on a similar iron bridge ringing it too in response. Before he is able to solve the mystery, Charlie returns home, but not before readers discover the answer.

Poet Ted Kooser has turned his poetic writing to another book for children with another grand result. Kooser invites readers into Charlie’s world, weaving slow days of summer carefully with his words. He shows the beauty of these slow days, the potential for discovery of things that would otherwise be unnoticed in the fast pace of video games and TV. These are old-fashioned summer days but ones that modern children can discover too if they are willing to head outside, collect their own jars of creatures and sticks, and hit things with stones.

Root’s illustrations are filled with golden summer sun. Even the cool shade near the stream is dappled with it. The bridge across the stream is structural and one can clearly understand how it rings like a bell. The countryside is filled with greens and yellow oranges, showing open fields bordered with stream and trees. It’s a world to explore.

A gorgeous picture book that shows the luminous nature of summer days spent outside with a good mystery to keep you occupied. Appropriate for ages 5-7.

Reviewed from library copy.


Guess Who, Haiku by Deanna Caswell

Guess Who Haiku by Deanna Caswell

Guess Who, Haiku by Deanna Caswell, illustrated by Bob Shea (InfoSoup)

Haiku poetry is turned into a guessing game in this delightful picture book. One animal after another is described in haiku format and then the reader is asked to guess what animal it is. The answer is revealed with a turn of the page. This simple idea is engaging for youngsters learning about poetry and also works as a more basic picture book for younger listeners. It is that ease of use that makes this book so engaging for various age levels.

Caswell’s haiku are exceptional in the way they offer clues that children can understand and yet conform to the strict haiku format rules. They also read as haiku and real poems, each one working as a stand-alone haiku as well as a clue in the game of the book. This takes real skill, particularly since it looks so very effortless on the page.

Shea’s illustrations are loud, dynamic and funny. From the almost round bumblebee and the grinning flower to the googly-eyed frog , they are simple and also capture the essence of the animal they are depicting. They are filled with energy and life, making the book all the more fun.

This is the ideal book to introduce children to haiku since it makes the experience completely engaging and game-like. Appropriate for ages 3-7.

Reviewed from copy received from Abrams.