What the Heart Knows: Chants, Charms, and Blessings

Joyce Sidman, illus. by Pamela Zagarenski. Houghton Mifflin, $16.99 (80p) ISBN 978-0-544-10616-1
“I wrote these poems for comfort, for understanding, for hope,” writes Sidman in introduction to a grouping of nearly 50 poems. “They are words to speak in the face of loneliness, fear, delight, or confusion.” Sidman gathers her verse into four sections—Chants & Charms, Spells & Incantations, Laments & Remembrances, and Praise Songs & Blessings—while Zagarenski contributes brightly painted and emotionally evocative mixed-media artwork filled with the crowned figures, teapots, wheels, and lions that frequent her work. The subject matter ranges from the quotidian to the unfathomable: “We bow to your littleness,/ pencils, glasses, keys./ Without you we are lost,” reads “Invitation to Lost Things,” while “When Death Comes” is a devastating meditation on its irrevocability (“Even when you know/ it’s coming,/ it arrives/ out of nowhere:/ so quick/, so uncalled for”). Poems of bravery, love, heartbreak, justice, and peace unite to offer readers of all ages solace, inspiration, and strength. Ages 12–up. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/05/2013
Release date: 10/08/2013
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