My Poet

HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen. Sept. 2022. 32p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062971142.
K-Gr 2–Lucy, who is white, lives next door to a poet; as the two wander the farmers’ market, beach, and boat house on the first day of summer vacation, they observe the natural world and transform it into words. With notebook and pen, Lucy is still trying to get the hang of it, while (readers learn from the author’s note) her slender companion, a white woman with short gray hair, is based on Mary Oliver. Lucy observes the poet as much as the strawberries, stones, and spiderwebs they see: “Does she untangle the sound of/ aspen leaves/ blowing in the wind/ into words?” Hill’s illustrations are bright and breezy, loose, and beachy; the poet’s dogs—one black, one white—are on nearly every page. At home in the evening, Lucy writes a short poem of her own, about a stone the poet gave her on the beach. First-person narration from the child’s perspective lends an open, curious tone that may inspire readers to be close observers and try their hands at poetry, too.
VERDICT Even without the author’s note, this is a gentle but formidable addition to picture book collections everywhere; as nuanced as a poem, it spells out as much as it withholds and leaves readers with questions they’ll be inspired to try to answer themselves.

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