A River of Words by Jen Bryant

Note: I occasionally accept review copies from the publisher. Posts written from review copies are labeled. All opinions are my own. Posts may contain affiliate links. I may receive compensation for any purchased items.

My Caldecott challenge: Although these Caldecott winner and honor books are not, for the most part, books I’ve read aloud to my son, I still found them interesting. A few I had strong negative opinions of; they show that even books that earned the Caldecott award do become dated!

A River of Words by Jen Bryant and illustrated by Melissa Sweet (Caldecott Honor 2009) is a picture book biography of the poet William Carlos Williams.

While the story of his life is interesting, my favorite part of this book is the incredible collages that illustrate it. Illustrator Melissa Sweet did extensive research about Williams’ life before she began work on the book. In the end, she used bits of old discarded books. The endpapers became the background for her paintings.

Each page has some words from Williams’ poems: either cut-outs from a book, typewritten, or handwritten somewhere on the page. These beautiful, detailed, and interesting collages help tell the story of a boy who became a doctor and yet still loved the times when he looked at words “…and shaped them into poems.” Highly recommended.

Reviewed on November 15, 2010

About the author 

Rebecca Reid

Rebecca Reid is a homeschooling, stay-at-home mother seeking to make the journey of life-long learning fun by reading lots of good books. Rebecca Reads provides reviews of children's literature she has enjoyed with her children; nonfiction that enhances understanding of educational philosophies, history and more; and classical literature that Rebecca enjoys reading.

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