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When Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was first published in 186S, it set critics awry: here was a book for children written for the pure pleasure of reading. It has since become one of the most famous children's books ever, translated into many different languages, performed as a play, and made into a popular Disney animated film.
The wisdom of peace and the absurdity of fighting are demonstrated in seventeen stories and poems by outstanding authors of today such as Jean Fritz, Milton Meltzer, and Nancy Willard.
AT THE END OF A SMALL street in the city of Florence is a shop unlike any you have ever seen. When you walk inside, you will find a room crammed from tip to top with beds-big beds, little beds, bunk beds, junk beds, trundle beds, canopied beds, beds with four posts, beds with no posts. In the middle of the shop you will see a woman. And if she offers to show you the breathlessly beautiful carved bed in the back room, think twice before you agree to go see it. For this is no ordinary bed . . .
In this strong, appealing collection, Nancy Willard shares her passion for observing the mysteries of the natural world, particularly the flora and fauna of Cape Cod and the Hudson Valley, where many of these poems are set. We see, through her eyes, the coming of darkness to an empty orchard, the retreat of deer at dusk, and the breakup of a river with the onset of spring. Willard is also deeply engaged with the living creatures that populate her world. Her poems record her encounter with a moon snail and her celebration of the ladybugs she sends into the garden and the butterflies that alight on her shoulders like ghostly kisses. Amid poems about the intimate presence of nature are expressions of absences deeply felt. Willard is drawn not just to the inhabited world but also to the empty spaces with which our passage through life is strewn. In "The Absence at the Swing," a rabbit watches a swing's back-and-forth motion just after the children have left the playground; in "Niche Without Statue," she takes us to "an alcove scoured / to stucco light" and tells us, "Somebody lived here. Stepped away. No tracks. " We learn, too, of the presences she misses most deeply, as in "Phone Poem," in which she imagines receiving a telephone call from her father after his death. Whether she is cultivating a sense of the life that is all around her or attending to the losses felt within, Nancy Willard never ceases to enchant us with the sense of dedication and awe that graces her verse. From the Hardcover edition.
From the acclaimed poet of In the Salt Marsh comes a dazzling collection about the magic hiding in the ordinary days of our past and present. Willard turns a keen eye on the natural world that witnesses these revelations, and the myriad, often surprising ways in which it intersects with our own human lot. Willard shows us time and again that "In me nothing of childhood is lost." She recaptures for us not only the fleeting, distant shreds of a charmed, innocent youth, but brings back the people who have been loved and lost. She tells us of the man whose sister appears to him the night after her memorial service, and of the time her grandfather called her mother three days after he died, ". . . and she with her arms full / of wind-washed laundry / just freed from the line." She gives back to us Walt Whitman, "eating / his supper from a sheet of brown paper." She lends voice not only to the loved ones with whom we have parted ways but also to the plant and animal lives that remain a mystery to us despite our close proximity to them. In her able hands "the potato opens its eyes" and the dragonfly stands "well mannered and cautious." Whether she is musing "What it is to be that crow," bringing us "the gossip of ants," or noting that "The sea reads slowly, as old men in libraries / follow the news . . .," Willard brings extraordinary empathy to every subject she touches, creating fascinating new worlds from the ordinary staples of our daily existence. Finally, she plumbs the ultimate union between the human and natural worlds that she brings into such sharp focus. Grave Last year four men planted you under a stone. Today I plant the dumpy heart of a narcissus. Sharing your bed, it will wake up singing.From the Hardcover edition.
A shoemaker and his wife being photographed for their wedding anniversary keep adding items to the picture despite the photographer's admonition that "Simple pictures are best."
Nancy Willard was inspired by William Blake's verbal and visual imagery as a child. She has now produced a book of poems that are not "in the style of" but more of an homage to Blake's poetry. The organizing principle is that Blake runs and inn and it is staffed and patronized by a variety of fanciful creatures and people. The rhyme schemes and words are mostly simple enough for children. The allusions and imagery extend the interest to older readers.
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