Review of Book of Questions / Libro de las preguntas: Selections / Selecciones

Book of Questions / Libro de las preguntas: Selections / SeleccionesBook of Questions / Libro de las preguntas: Selections / Selecciones
by Pablo Neruda; illus. by Paloma Valdivia; trans. from Spanish by Sara Lissa Paulson
Primary, Intermediate    Enchanted Lion    80 pp.    g
4/22    978-1-59270-322-7    $22.95

This lavish volume includes excerpts from Neruda’s Libro de las preguntas in the original Spanish alongside new English translations by Paulson. Valdivia’s expansive illustrations in a limited, muted palette give readers plenty of space to dwell on each question. The questions themselves, mostly arranged as couplets, have no answers and often imaginative premises: “Who shouted for joy / when the color blue was born?” “Where can you find a bell / that rings inside your dreams?” Frequent gatefolds function as transitions between related illustrations (a peaceful mountain scene becomes a volcanic eruption, with similar changes in the flora and fauna) or as pauses between related questions (“Why do trees hide / the splendor of their roots?” [gatefold] “So, how do roots know / they must rise up to the light?”). Back matter includes notes about the source material and its meaning from the illustrator, editor, and translator. Endlessly perusable—as long as you have the elbow room—the book is perfectly pitched to encourage students to write their own question poems; pair with Kooser and Wanek’s equally philosophical Marshmallow Clouds (rev. 3/22).

From the May/June 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Shoshana Flax
Shoshana Flax

Shoshana Flax, associate editor of The Horn Book Magazine, is a former bookseller and holds an MFA in Writing for Children from Simmons University. She has served on the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award and Sydney Taylor Book Award committees.

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