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A buoyant, breathtaking poem from Juan Felipe Herrera — brilliantly illustrated by Caldecott Honoree Lauren Castillo — speaks to every dreaming heart.Have you ever imagined what you might...
A buoyant, breathtaking poem from Juan Felipe Herrera — brilliantly illustrated by Caldecott Honoree Lauren Castillo — speaks to every dreaming heart.Have you ever imagined what you might...
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  • A buoyant, breathtaking poem from Juan Felipe Herrera — brilliantly illustrated by Caldecott Honoree Lauren Castillo — speaks to every dreaming heart.
    Have you ever imagined what you might be when you grow up? When he was very young, Juan Felipe Herrera picked chamomile flowers in windy fields and let tadpoles swim across his hands in a creek. He slept outside and learned to say good-bye to his amiguitos each time his family moved to a new town. He went to school and taught himself to read and write English and filled paper pads with rivers of ink as he walked down the street after school. And when he grew up, he became the United States Poet Laureate and read his poems aloud on the steps of the Library of Congress. If he could do all of that . . . what could you do? With this illustrated poem of endless possibility, Juan Felipe Herrera and Lauren Castillo breathe magic into the hopes and dreams of readers searching for their place in life.

Reviews-

  • School Library Journal

    Starred review from October 1, 2018

    K-Gr 4-A young child of migrant farmers spends his time picking flowers, playing with tadpoles, sleeping under the stars, helping with chores, and learning to say goodbye each time his family leaves their home for someplace new. The boy grows, eventually walking to a new school alone, knowing he cannot yet read or write English. He practices spelling in English by using what he knows in Spanish, and collects pens as well as words to write magnificent stories. He sings in front of his classmates, and learns guitar so that he can turn his poetry into songs. (If I picked up/my honey-colored guitar/and called out my poem/every day/until it turned into a song, /imagine.") Written by the master wordsmith himself, this work details Herrera's life as a young boy spending time outside and then as an adolescent learning to craft poetry, before ultimately receiving the honor of U.S. Poet Laureate as an adult. His words are accompanied by pen-and-foam monoprint illustrations that sweep across the page to create a soft, dreamy feeling, further encouraging readers to heed the author's recurring refrain: imagine. Readers will finish the story envisioning all the possibilities that may await them. VERDICT A beautifully illustrated poem that will be cherished by children. A first purchase.-Maggie Mason Smith, Clemson University, SC

    Copyright 2018 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from September 15, 2018
    Former Poet Laureate Herrera encourages his young readers to imagine all they might be in his new picture book.Herrera's free verse tells his own story, starting as a young boy who loves the plants and animals he finds outdoors in the California fields and is then thrust into the barren, concrete city. In the city he begins to learn to read and write, learning English and discovering a love for words and the way ink flows "like tiny rivers" across the page as he applies pen to paper. Words soon become sentences, poems, lyrics, and a means of escape. This love of the word ultimately leads him to make writing his vocation and to become the first Chicano Poet Laureate of the United States, an honor Herrera received in 2015. Through this story of hardship to success, expressed in a series of conditional statements that all begin "If I," Herrera implores his readers to "imagine what you could do." Castillo's ink and foam monoprint illustrations are a tender accompaniment to Herrera's verse, the black lines of her illustrations flowing across the page in rhythm with the author's poetry. Together this makes for a charming read-aloud for groups or a child snuggled in a lap.A lyrical coming-of-age story in picture-book form that begs to be shared. (Picture book/memoir. 4-8)

    COPYRIGHT(2018) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Booklist

    September 15, 2018
    Grades K-3 The Poet Laureate of the U.S. from 2015 to 2017, Herrera offers up a brief autobiography in free verse, encouraging readers to consider their future. As the son of migrant workers growing up in California, sensitive young Juan enjoys sleeping outside and admiring the flowers near his country home. Though his family moves many times, he finds that words are a constant that make him happy and give him freedom to create. Overcoming hardships, such as having to walk to the nearest town for water and entering school not knowing the English language, make him a stronger person. By putting words together, he finds he's able to write stories, poems, and songs. Castillo used foam monoprint and pen to beautifully illustrate the author's early life. Backgrounds have a soft, almost unfocused look, while specific objects are clearly outlined in a dark hue. Herrera's talents of speaking, singing, playing music, and writing poetry are inspiring. This quiet tale may motivate readers to reflect on their abilities and allow their imaginations to envision the opportunities that await them.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2018, American Library Association.)

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from August 6, 2018
    Each stanza of this verse memoir by former U.S. Poet Laureate Herrera ends with the word “imagine.” Is it a sigh, or is it an imperative? “If I let tadpoles/ swim across my hands/ in the wavy creek,/ imagine,” he writes about his early childhood. Entering his English-speaking school was a challenge—he spoke Spanish—yet language fascinated him, and he began to write stories, poems, and songs: “If I grabbed a handful/ of words/ I had never heard and/ sprinkled them over a paragraph... imagine.” As an adult, he stood on the steps of the Library of Congress as poet laureate. Now he fills out the sentence that begins with the word imagine: “Imagine what you could do.” Spacious, light-filled spreads by Castillo (Nana in the City) conjure up landscapes of red earth, bright sun, and long views. Herrera writes of the joy of creation and discovery, and says little about the hardships he must have undergone. The story of a brown-skinned boy who “practiced/ spelling words/ in English by/ saying them in Spanish/ like—pehn-seel for/ pencil” reaching recognition as the nation’s most lauded poet offers a heartening narrative of hope: “imagine.” Ages 5–9. Illustrator’s agent: Paul Rodeen, Rodeen Literary.

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    Candlewick Press
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