Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews



Shauna LaVoy Reynolds
Illustrator:  Sharhrzad Maydani 
Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Penguin Random House, 2019   ISBN: 978-0399539121

Sylvia feels like celebrating. Winter is on its way out and it looks like spring is here to stay. For Sylvia, the perfect way to welcome spring is to write a poem, and so this is what she does. When the poem is complete she does to the park and reads it a squirrel. To Sylvia, it seems fitting to leave the poem tied to a birch tree with a piece of red ribbon. It is her gift, which she hopes will make “the world more splendid.”

The next day Sylvia sees that her poem is still attached to the tree. But wait, the paper is tied to the tree with a green ribbon instead of red one. The poem is not the one she wrote. It is another one, a poem that also celebrates spring, a poem that delights Sylvia. Who knew that trees could write poems!

In class Ms. Oliver teaches the children how to write haiku poems and Sylvia writes one about the birch tree, which in her mind is the “Great green Poetree.” Ms. Oliver thinks the poem is worthy of a gold star. Annoying Walter does not think that the poem warrants a star, but this is nothing new, Walter is always finding ways to criticize Sylvia. On her way home Sylvia stops by the tree and she puts her haiku, now folded into a paper boat, in a knothole.

On Saturday she eagerly runs to the park. Her haiku is gone, and at first it looks as if nothing has been put in its place. This does not seem to matter much though. Sylvia is inspired to write another poem in her head, a poem that celebrates the tree that she considers to be her “friend.” When she signs her poem using a stick that she flourishes through the air, she accidentally hits a branch and a little paper star falls to the ground. Inside the folded star is a poem. It is a haiku and it sounds as if it was written by the tree. Something truly magical is happening.

Like music, stories and pieces of poetry can cross the divides that separate people. For some, people like Sylvia, writing poetry is how she connects on a very heart-felt level with the world around her.

This unique, timeless, and deliciously wonderful picture book celebrates the power of poetry and friendship.