CARL SANDBURG: Adventures of a Poet

Penelope Niven, Author, Marc Nadel, Illustrator, Carl Sandburg, With , illus. by Marc Nadel. Harcourt $17 (32p) ISBN 978-0-15-204686-6

With grace and insight, Niven funnels the prodigious scholarship of her adult title Carl Sandburg, A Biography into a welcoming, child-friendly story; her thoughtful presentation almost mirrors the accessibility for which Sandburg was dubbed the "Poet of the People." Each spread embraces a single aspect of Sandburg's life and presents a related excerpt from his writing. On the left of the spread, supple, anecdote-filled prose chronicles, for example, the teenage Carl's two-mile walk to work as a "milk slinger" (milk deliverer). "On icy winter days, he trudged along the gravel bed of the railroad tracks. Carl's feet nearly froze... He was always glad when spring came." On the facing page, the poem "Just Before April Came" implicitly connects that experience to his art. Niven adds historical context too, linking events of the Spanish-American War to the poet's time as a soldier and to the verses of "New Feet," his meditation on how "empty battlefields keep their phantoms." Nadel's (Hour of Freedom: American History in Poetry) period-flavored, crosshatched watercolors suggest similarly attentive research, their crisp images drawn from family and archival photographs. On the excerpt pages, straightforward, full-page depictions flesh out the poems, while a spot illustration brightens the pages with biographical exposition. A timeline, cleverly organized around a series of railroad ties, displays pivotal events in the poet's life and in the world around him. Ages 6-9. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 07/28/2003
Release date: 08/01/2003
Hardcover - 978-0-252-02115-2
Hardcover - 843 pages - 978-0-684-19251-2
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