Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Flicker Flash

Flicker Flash

Joan Bransfield Graham
Illustrator:  Nancy Davis 
Poetry Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Houghton Mifflin Harcour, 2003   ISBN: 978-0618311026

Light, in its many forms, has a huge impact on our lives. The sun’s light greets us in the morning, and on many nights moonlight sends us off to bed. Under the covers children read another chapter of their new book by flashlight, while the flickering lights of fireflies dance in the darkness outdoors.

In this unique poetry collection the author explores the many ways in which light touches us as we go about our days and nights. The poems are concrete poems, which means that the words are arranged on the page in such a way that they create a picture.

For example, in her poem Candle, the text is placed so that it looks like the post of a candle, with the word candle at the top forming the flame. The poem that creates the word picture is beautifully composed telling readers of how the “quick, / exotic light, / a dancing / vision of the night” “helps erase” the darkness that is “slyly creeping / up my back.”

In Cresent Moon, we see a simple poem smiling out at us from the page, a thin sliver of yellow in the night sky, and in Birthday Candles the words are arranged so that they look like a birthday cake, complete with four candles. The words that serve as the candles on the cake form the phrase “Happy Day” (twice) and the icing words describe how the candles are “Like shooting stars / that blaze the dark.” Even when the candles have been blown out the light from the faces “circled near” is still there.

Other topics covered in these poems include the sun, a firefly, a match, a lightning bolt, a light bulb, a porch light, stars and the full moon, a spotlight, the light inside a fridge, a lighthouse light, and a lamp.

Children will enjoy seeing how a poem can titillate both their eyes and their eyes, and they might even be inspired to write a light-filled concrete poem of their own.

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