cover image Grassroots


Carl Sandburg. Harcourt Children's Books, $18 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-15-200082-0

Dedicated ""to all who remember their grassroots,"" Minor's full-page golden paintings of wind-blown wheat, holstein cows, winter shadows and summer grass take their inspiration from Sandburg's poetry in this handsome volume. Nostalgic images of the Midwest unfold in both text and art; the exquisite paintings of prairies and farms include a roan horse who ""feels the foam on the collar at the end of a haul"" as well as a round-bellied steamboat captain who stands like Teddy Roosevelt surveying the Mississippi. Glorious colors feature in other paintings: a buffalo stands before a row of teepees, backed by an orange and pink sherbet-colored sunset and a shooting star, his great head ""pawing/ on in a great pageant of dusk,"" and a brilliant green frog sits waiting, beating ""the air with a recurring thin/ steel sliver of melody."" The barefoot farm boy on the cover, a turn-of-the-century family opposite the title page and a picture of a snowman will appeal to children, but most paintings focus on adult-centered fare: a man and his dog survey the horizon, the fire from dried corn stalks ""lights the west in November."" Still, few will argue that Sandburg's prayer to the Illinois October sun to ""give these crabapples your softening gold"" is made more poignant by Minor's stunning rendering of a black-branched tree in autumn. All ages. (Mar.)