cover image Gingerbread Days

Gingerbread Days

Joyce Carol Thomas. Joanna Cotler Books, $14.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-06-023469-0

Like food stored away for winter, this rich harvest of poems contains enough sustenance to last throughout the year. A companion volume to Thomas and Cooper's Brown Honey in Broomwheat Tea, the 12 poems included are somewhat arbitrarily linked to various months of the year but unified by a single narrator. ``August Cowboy'' tells of a boy's Buffalo Soldier grandfather; ``April Medicine'' is about how the boy is comforted by his mother's touch because she knows ``the temperature of [his] head'' and the ``weather of [his] heart.'' Each poem and paiting is infused with the warmth and strength of the boy's family and his home where, as he says, ``We drink love for breakfast.'' Cooper's predominantly yellow and brown palette reflects the glow of a hearth fire, where the father's ``bricklayer hands/ red and muddy with mortar'' smell like ``the fireplace/ He's built and stoked with wood'' to warm the family's ``chilly bones.'' Thomas's simple but touching language describes a hopeful world where school, church, and family ties are celebrated, where ``people are more important than things,'' and where love is as wonderful as gingerbread, warm and spicy from the oven. All ages. (Sept.)