cover image Jabberwalking


Juan Felipe Herrera. Candlewick, $22.99 (144p) ISBN 978-1-5362-0140-6

Using the made-up words of Carroll’s “Jabberwocky” as a jumping-off point, former U.S. poet laureate Herrera shows children how riotous verbal exuberance births poetry: “whatever pours out of your bubbly burrito head down to your paper pad thing or liquid screen.” He’s full of bold techniques for releasing the poems inside his readers (“Scribble what you see/ Scribble what you hear/ Scribble out the electric Jabber worms crawling out of your head & eyes”), and his own free verse zigs, zags, and leaps, punc­tuated with scribbled drawings, playful grammar and spelling, and detours into interplanetary surrealism (“It’s me! Zandunga García! From Bunion Junction!”). Along the way, he remembers his farm-worker parents, speaks of being a poet of color in the U.S., and declares that what matters most is “to make all life so beautiful your heart becomes a diamond galaxy.” Most of all, he wants readers to understand that they can be writers, right now: “Let’s go! ¡Vámanos! Slide on your Jabber Booots!” Poetry manuals can make students roll their eyes, but this one may open their hearts. Ages 10–up. Agent: Kendra Marcus, Bookstop Literary. (Mar.)