A Pond Full of Ink
by Annie M. G. Schmidt; trans. from the Dutch by David Colmer; illus. by Sieb Posthuma
Intermediate Eerdmans 40 pp.
3/14 978-0-8028-5433-9 $16.00 g
A skinny, long-nosed poet fills his pen from the ink pond in his garden and offers the reader a selection of story poems featuring personalities old and young, human and animal, animate and inanimate. There’s a cautionary tale of Belinda who refused to wash. There’s gentle satire as village gossip escalates a small domestic incident into a major disaster. There’s the love story of Aunty Jo and the reindeer who dropped by. In a couple of cases, a poem leaves us with a question (how do you manage a baby stroller when you live in a tree?) that is answered on the wordless double-page spread (in pen-and-ink and collage) that follows it. The wordplay is energetic; healthy handfuls of enjambment mitigate against dreary dum-di-dum, and the micronarratives celebrate lateral thinking, community, and kindness. “Three elderly otters longed to go boating / out on the river, / out on the moat. / For years, they had wished they could be out there floating, / but, being otters, they couldn’t help noting / signs on the seats of every last boat. / Written by renters, the miserable rotters, / they said… / FORBIDDEN FOR OTTERS.” It ends happily.
From the May/June 2014 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.