cover image A Lucky Thing

A Lucky Thing

Alice Schertle. Harcourt Children's Books, $17 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-15-200541-2

This thoughtful book of poems celebrates the creative process. A girl with pen in hand--and a computer mouse as well as the furry, whiskered variety close by--sits in a barn writing poetry at a desk; this image frames the collection, which follows the writer from morning to night, closing with ""a poem about a barn"" where not only bales of hay but ""stanzas/ are/ stacked/ to the ceiling."" Some poems describe what the girl sees from her perch--the sheep that from a distance look like ""soft gray caps of mushrooms/ too big to be believed"" and a scarecrow whose ""round astonished eyes/ observe with more than painted-on surprise/ a black snake flow like water down a hole."" The imagery is crisp, taut and always apt. Many of the poems offer an invitation to view the world more closely: a mole says, ""[C]ome on down... taste dirt/ on the tip of your tongue... wrap yourself in darkness/ see/ what you're missing."" Another poem, ""The Barn,"" describes the animals emerging from their shelter after a storm as if from the Ark, ""From the damp shadows/ of its hold,/ the stamping, snorting/ voyagers come forward/ two by two."" Minor's illustrations neatly combine fidelity to nature with emblems of the art of writing. Though a few of the connections seem forced (e.g., a rooster holds a piece of paper under his wing), others convey subtle whimsy, such as the scarecrow with pen and pencil tucked into his bib overalls. Those who discover this elegantly written, deftly illustrated book will count themselves lucky indeed. Ages 8-up. (Apr.)