Happy Friday, Poets
This week, the author-poet-on-fire (with multiple books coming out this year) Laura Purdie Salas hosts our weekly round-up at Writing the World for Kids. When my writer-self grows up...I want to be Laura!
I have a different kind of Poetry Friday/book review for you today.
Not too long ago, debut author Mariana Llanos asked me if I'd be interested in reviewing her new book, Lucas's Bridge (Penny Candy 2019). I agreed and I received this beautiful English-Spanish bilingual book in the mail. See the book trailer for Luca's Bridge.
I read it. I liked it. I knew I could and would write a favorable review. And, there was something about it that was familiar. A kind of dream or trancelike recounting of an experience that begins with loss. It didn't take long before a poetic match...Kindness by Naomi Shihab Nye came to mind.
This book and Nye's poem (words in plum and formatted special for this post ) pair beautifully.
Luca and his family must leave The United States. Luca and his brother have the necessary documents to stay. However, Mami and Papi do not. If the family wants to stay together, they must drive to Abuela's house in Mexico to live.
Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever...
Luca sits in the backseat on the long car ride holding his trumpet thinks of all the people and places and special things he is losing. He sees birds and trucks out the window. He imagines what they are doing and what it's like to be them instead of himself. He sobs quietly.
...the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.
Before you learn the tender
gravity of kindness
you must travel...
Luca's trumpet is his constant companion when his family arrives in Mexico where everything is different. His fingers tap on his trumpet. He longs to play music to connect him to a life he's familiar with.
"No music now hijito. We've had a long day. It's time for bed," says Mami.
...Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Luca goes to bed listening to music of the night in a new place. In his dreams his trumpet comes to life and builds a bridge to...? Well, my friend, you will need to read the beautiful places this bridge leads to in Luca's Bridge.
Trust that it is a good place, a safe and happy place--and a place of kindness. You and your friends will want to go, especially if readers read in English and Spanish. Seek out this book to find out where Luca's trumpet takes us all. I'm so glad that I did.