Thursday, October 26, 2017

Poem Pairing with The Incredible Magic of Being

Written for a visit by Kathy Erskine to Prince William School Library Association Meeting.....but really, a review and poetry pairing.

I have the pleasure of welcoming author and our friend, Kathy Erskine, to our gathering at Bookworm Central. 

As you know, Kathy has won acclaim for her YA and MG novels. She has that wonderful amalgamation of curiosity, smarts, talent, open-mindedness in her very big heart for young people and the young at heart.

I've read almost all of Kathy's books. Mama Africa How Miriam Makeba Spread Hope with Her Song was published almost simultaneously with The Incredible Magic of Being....which puts me a little bit behind -- but not for long.

If you have not had a chance to take a peek at The Incredible Magic of Being, I hope you do soon. This book is perfect for ages 7-14. The mission of its main character and unisensor, Julien is to let us know's going to be all right. The Universe really is an incredible place and none of us are going to slip through its cracks. Just take time to stop and notice. And, there are funny threads too like talk of burning s'mores and FARTS (Facts and Random Thoughts).

In the voice of Julien, Kathy asks readers to notice the unknown..the incredible...the magical and persist with questions even in the face of doubt, because it's how we all achieve the impossible.

What a beautiful message for today.

On her blog, author-poet Laura Shovan sometimes pairs newly published kid-lit novels with poetry. I'm going to give that a try. The Spinning Earth, by Aileen Fisher, suits Julien at age nine, the age he is in The Incredible Magic of Being.

The Spinning Earth

    The earth, they say
    spins round and round.
    It doesn't look like it from the ground,
    and never makes
    a spinning sound.
    And water never
    swirls and swishes
    from oceans full
    of dizzy fishes,
    and shelves don't lose
    their pans and dishes.
    And houses don't go whirling by,
    or puppies swirl around the sky,
    and robins spin instead of fly.
    It may be true
    what people say
    about spinning
    night and day...
    but I keep on wondering anyway.
    Aileen Fisher

    This next poem is for us, the readers -- grown-up Julien's. I think grown-up Julien would inscribe these words on his telescope.

    When I heard the learn’d astronomer, 
    When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me, 
    When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them, 
    When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room, 
    How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick, 
    Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself, 
    In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time, 
    Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.
    Thank you for joining us and sharing some of the magic of the universe with us tonight, Kathy.


  1. I love the idea of pairing poems with prose, and the pair you've chosen here are wonderful. I so want to read the novel now, too.

  2. The pair of poems you've selected make me even more eager to read The Incredible Magic of Being. Thank you for sharing both the book and the poems.

  3. I've noted the book on my wish list, Linda. It sounds good, and now I'll need to return to your post after reading it. Pairing the poems as Laura does is such fun. I love Aileen Fisher's fresh look and the Whitman is always fun to read and try to sense his mood when writing it.

  4. Thanks for sharing the book and the poems. I love the Walt Whitman poem. I often think that we've taken too much of the wonder out of the world with our explanations, diagrams, ultrasounds, etc. I can relate to that need to simply go out and lose oneself in the wonder of the night sky.

  5. How fun to pair poems and books!

  6. I remember reading Aileen Fisher poems as a child. I need to go looking for more of her!

  7. Wow, Linda Mitchell, I swooned when I saw how you described me! Thank you! I love those poems. Makes me want to write a book called the Silence of the Stars. I like the sound of this book, and I will add it to my want-to-read-list. I am never bored. There are always more lovely things in this world than there is time to do each one. :-) Aren't we lucky to be living in this tumultuous and beautiful world?

  8. The Whitman poem is a favorite with a last line that nails it for me!

  9. Love that Aileen Fisher poem. Nice pairing, Linda!

  10. Appreciations for the magical poem pair.

    And Linda, you do achieve the impossible, all the time.

    I ordered & now only recently have INCREDIBLE. I'm going to have a cozy time on my journey with Julien.
    Would have loved to see that photo of you two.
    I expect to send a link later, when my blog is up this week, featuring
    Kathy Erskine's MAMA AFRICA! + 2 other authors' books that fit together so well.
    So much goodness. All magical. I thank you & Kathy for the reminders.


Friendly, positive comments and feedback are always welcome here. Please let me know I'm not just whistling in the dark!