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Sunday, September 1, 2013

Forest Has a Song, with poems by Amy Ludwig Vanerwater and illustrations by Robbin Gourley. Clarion Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Thomas Allen & Son, 2013. $20.99 ages 5 and up

"I dug in the creek bed.
I dug and I found
a grandfather fossil
asleep underground.
He whispered a story
of creatures in sand.
I listened as trilobites
filled up my hand..."

For a long time I have been visiting The Poem Farm (, and always enjoying Amy's exceptional poetry and lessons for young writers. You should go there right now!

So, it is with great pleasure I share her first book. I have read her poetry in other places, but it is very special to have these poems about the forest in one place to share with you, and with young readers everywhere. The little girl whose poems are narrated here lives near a forest and enjoys its many pleasures on frequent visits.  

The sights and sounds that are so particular to the forest offer an attraction that cannot be ignored. While she visits, she uses all of her senses to explore its beauty...from an old dead branch, to a chirping chickadee, and from footprints that leave a very special newscast:

"Scribbled hints
in footprints
tell about the day.
I stop to read
the Forest News
before it's worn away."
I live in awe of a poet so adept at choosing the perfect word(s) to show readers what she wants us to see. She paints clear pictures with those words. Through the seasons, the girl makes new discoveries that play with her senses, and help readers feel what she is feeling as she explores the nearby forest. There are so many special moments to celebrate in the gentle poems written for our reading pleasure. There are twenty-six poems. Having read them numerous times, I only wish there were more!

Robbin Gourley is able to match the many special moments with her watercolor illustrations. They evoke the same harmonious feelings that the girl feels every time she enters the forest, alone or with companions. The art shows a playground ripe for adventure and meditation, allowing readers a clear feeling for the mood of each of the beautifully crafted poems.

From a Canadian prairie girl, I share favorite poem today:


Winds whip.
Geese call. 
Squirrels chase.
Leaves fall.
Trees creak.
Birds flap.
Deer run.
Twigs snap.

Silence in Forest
never lasts long.
is everywhere
mixing in
with piney air.

Forest has a song."

It must be the leaves that are dancing in the driveway on this windy, warm first day of September! Now, I invite you to listen to Amy as she reads these beautiful words for us.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for this beautiful review. I am simply honored and so happy that you liked the book. Much gratitude! xo, a.