Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Everything is a Poem: The Best of J. Patrick Lewis

Everything is a Poem: The Best of J. Patrick Lewis

J. Patrick Lewis
Illustrator:  Maria Christina Pritelli 
Poetry Picture Book
For ages 7 and up
Creative Editions, 2014   ISBN: 978-1568462400

J. Patrick Lewis discovered what he calls “word magic” relatively late in life. He had been teaching college economics for thirty years before he realized that he was in the wrong line of work; he made a radical change, trading in figures for words. After years of struggle, one of his manuscripts was accepted by a publisher and since then he has written eighty-five picture books and hundreds of poems.

J. Patrick Lewis wanted to “write poems in a hundred voices” and to “explore everything under and over the sun in as many different ways as it’s possible to write poetry.” He has done both of these things many times over, and this collection of his poetry will give readers a feeling for his skill and his passion for poetry. The collection certainly demonstrates that he has the ability to “help unlock imaginations,” which is another of his goals.

The poems are divided up into eight categories. These include poems about animals, people, reading, Mother Nature, and places. They come in many forms and do indeed have many different voice and tones. Some will make the reader laugh out loud, while others are more contemplative and will give the reader food for thought. Some tell fictional stories, while others serve as a tribute to a real person who contributed to the world in some way.

For example, in Baby Contralto we read about Marian Anderson who “brushed / Her voice / Across the air / In colors / Not seen / Anywhere.”  We can also read about Miles Davies, Roger Bannister (who broke the four-minute mile), Jesse Owens, and Rosa Parks.

In the Mother Nature section we can read about a redwood that is six thousand years old. It “waved its arms about the sky / And sang a sea breeze lullaby,” until in 1977, the great tree “bid farewell,” and fell to the forest floor. We also meet a “her-i-cane” called Lorelie, who “twisted around the ocean” but who “never grew / into a proper her-i-cane.”

Though these poems were written for children, readers of all ages will enjoy dipping into this collection. There is something on these pages for everyone. It would make a perfect gift for anyone who loves the magic that lies in words.