I feel like the recess bell just rang. It’s Poetry Friday! I rush out into the playground over at Teacher Dance for some fun. Thank you, Linda Baie, for hosting.
My mother was a sewer, a seamstress, and a certified tailor. She didn’t just sew fabric well. She created high-quality, extraordinarily precise textiles for her wardrobe, our family and many people that paid her for her work.
I once saw Mom take an antique size eight wedding gown and alter it to a today’s size twenty-two….using tea to stain the new fabric to match the aged fabric of the antique gown.
My mom was a miracle worker with fabric and thread.
I recently read Finding Wonders: Three Girls Who Changed Science by Jeannine Atkins (Simon & Schuster 2016) with a mind to review it. However, novels-in-verse slow me down as a reader. It’s because I’m slowing down to examine the stitches, seams and detail. Jeannine is a genius with words and a page.
When I felt ready to share my thoughts about Finding Wonders, I turned to Doraine Bennet’s Poetry Friday post with interview questions and answers from Jeannine on Finding Wonders.
I started clicking on the links in Doraine’s post that led to Jeannine’s blog, Views from a Window Seat, and teacher resources and writing prompts.
And then, I simply went off the path. I started responding to the writing prompts – just as an exercise I thought. There’s a historical figure without a large body of written record left that fascinates me. Why not start there? I fell down rabbit holes of research. I now have several bits of phrases and scratches and scribbles that I think maybe someday might become something? That’s the thing that Jeannine shows and Doraine reinforces. One doesn’t sit down say, now, I will write a novel in verse. One has to trek through rabbit holes and stay off the path before getting down to business.
I’m still studying the seams of Finding Wonders, admiring the high-quality and precision of Jeannine’s work. I’d love to be on the inside of her creative writing classes, crit-group, or editor’s chats. I don’t want to just pick-up and read another or any old novel in verse. I want to read and write to the level of Finding Wonders.
Getting back on the path to an actual review……
The observations of Maria Sibylla Merian, Mary Anning and Maria Mitchell led each young woman to respond to what she saw in ways that today we call science and art….these pioneers are our ste-A-m foremothers.
The verse will draw you in….though at first I questioned…how are these prose-y looking pages verse? They are. There are stanzas and line breaks to guide and wow. The figurative language is unique and thought provoking. The details and wonders readers to ponder are infinite.
There is a strong, luminous silken thread that connects the women in their lives to each other and to us. That’s the genius of Jeannine’s stitching that I admire most.
This is not simply a book for girls. As a middle school librarian, I can sell this book as a fast read to all students, teachers and staff members knowing full well they will come away with a learning wrapped up in beautiful words. I can also see Finding Wonders as a beautiful Father’s Day gift as each one of the women depicted had nurturing relationships with fathers.
Thank you, Jeannine, for writing such a lovely and thoughtful novel. Thank you Doraine for asking questions and sharing the answers. I have enjoyed learning…and look forward to more.
For more creativity related to Finding Wonders see Amy Vanderwater over at The Poem Farm.