April is National Poetry Month
Juan Felipe Herrera, Author
Lauren Castillo, Illustrator
Candlewick Press, Poetry, Sep. 25, 2018
Suitable for Ages: 5-9
Themes: Poetry, Juan Felipe Herrera, Imagination, Migrant workers, Moving, Multicultural
Opening: If I picked chamomile flowers / as a child / in the windy fields and whispered / to their fuzzy faces, / imagine.
Have you ever imagined who you might be when you grow up?
When Juan Felipe Herrera was very young, he picked flowers, helped his mama feed the chickens, slept under the starry sky, and learned to say good-bye to his amiguitos each time his migrant family moved on. When he grew up, Juan Felipe Herrera became a poet.
Why I like this book:
Doesn’t that cover just tug at your heart? This beautiful book is taken from Juan Felipe Herrera’s poem, “Imagine.” It depicts Herrera’s life as the young boy of migrant workers spending time outside exploring nature, traveling across country with his parents in search of work, learning to read, write and speak a new language when he attends school. He is a curious dreamer who loves life, nature and words. As a teen his words become stories, poetry and lyrics to songs. As an adult, he becomes the U.S. Poet Laureate from 2015 to 2017.
Written in free verse, each page begins with “If I picked…if I walked.. if I practiced…If I wrote ” and ends with “imagine.” His poetry beckons children to be dreamers of their futures — to “imagine” their own stories as they read his beautiful lyrics. What stories will they write for themselves? Will they be poets, scientists, artists, lawyers, doctors and musicians? They only need to imagine what they can do.
Lauren Castillo’s ink and foam monoprint illustrations are warm and cozy and beautifully compliment Herrera’s poem. Her earth-toned illustrations are in soft shades of tan and brown, with yellows, blues and greens highlighting each page. Make sure you check beneath the book jacket to discover a dreamy blue cover speckled with stars.
Resources: This book can be used in many different ways by educators. Different pages will inspire students. Encourage kids to pick a page and imagine who might they be when they grow up. The “If I…” prompts are a great opener for writing a few paragraphs about their stories. Other students may want to draw a picture about themselves and their story.
Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.
*Review copy provided by the publisher.