Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Wonderful Words: Poems About Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening

Wonderful Words: Poems About Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening

Selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins
Illustrator:  Karen Barbour 
Poetry Picture Book
For ages 7 and up
Simon and Schuster, 2004   ISBN: 978-0689835889

Words are so much a part of our lives that most of the time we don’t even think about what we are saying, hearing, or writing. We take words for granted because they are there, all around us. Could it be that words should not be taken for granted? Perhaps they are things to be valued and savored. Certainly Lee Bennett Hopkins thinks so, which is why he has brought together a special collection of poems that celebrate the written and spoken word.

This journey into the world of words begins with a short poem by Emily Dickinson who does not think that a “word is dead / When it is said.” Instead, she thinks that a word “just / Begins to live” the day it is uttered.

To poet Pat Mora, words are not just letters strung together. They are things that have a taste, a smell, and a texture. They have a sound, and they are “long and dark as tunnels” or “bright as rainbows.” When they are brought together in enough numbers, words become part of a book, and a book offers readers so much. A book can be a “friend” that gives us dreams. A book can warm us, excite us with stories, give us ideas, and they are there when we need them.

When they are spoken, words can be powerful things too. They can change minds, comfort, enlighten, and hurt. We need to be careful because once they are said “it is / not easy to call them back.”

This marvelous collection of poems will appeal to anyone who loves words. Writers, readers, poets, actors will all appreciate that words are precious and compelling things that make our world richer and more interesting.