cover image TOASTING MARSHMALLOWS: Camping Poems


Kristine O'Connell George, TOASTING MARSHMALLOWS: Camping Poems

Like their previous collaborations, The Great Frog Race and Old Elm Speaks, this volume by George and Kiesler is as delicious as a toasted marshmallow treat. George's poems are well crafted, varied and easily accessible. The topics range from a tent-shaped poem about the careful raising of the family's canvas lodging to post-trip unpacking, in which a child tucks away a flannel shirt perfumed in scents of pine, wood fire and forest moss in her "bottom drawer—/ where no one will find it/ and wash away [her] memories." Though Kiesler's human figures are sometimes wooden, she suffuses her acrylic landscapes with light filtered through leaves. A few of the illustrations seem too idyllic and scrubbed (in the "Abandoned Cabin," its "crumbling fireplace" looks newly constructed; in another, the brother's "grubby hands" seem freshly washed). Yet George's poems shine, the images clear and startling. A "panther cloud crosses the sky"; after a storm, a "confetti of birds... dance another rain shower." A concrete poem in the shape of a waning moon is exquisite: "Tipping/ a slender/ silver ear,/ Moon tries/ to pretend/ she isn't/ listening/ to our/ secrets." Readers will definitely want S-mores. Ages 6-10. (Mar.)