Review of Marshmallow Clouds: Two Poets at Play Among Figures of Speech

Marshmallow Clouds:Two Poets at Play Among Figures of SpeechMarshmallow Clouds: Two Poets at Play Among Figures of Speech
by Ted Kooser and Connie Wanek; illus. by Richard Jones
Intermediate, Middle School    Candlewick    72 pp.    g
3/22    978-1-5362-0303-5    $19.99

In free-verse poems in sections named for the four elements, former U.S. Poet ­Laureate Kooser and fellow poet Wanek use realities in their speakers’ surroundings as springboards to creative observations, from imagined personalities (a fire “is never full, never satisfied”) and histories (a boat has “been waiting / all summer, and maybe for thousands of years”) to simple appreciation (“People who live in cities / never get to ­accidentally step /in a cow pie”). The language is both evocative and playful: a speaker on a hot day is “boiled and salted / like a peanut…the meat / in a heat sandwich, the dog in a hot.” Jones’s full-bleed illustrations, rendered in paint and edited digitally, are striking even in their muted colors. In an afterword, Kooser and Wanek encourage readers to pay attention to their ­imaginations—making this a perfect mentor text for students writing their own poems.

From the March/April 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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