cover image One Today

One Today

Richard Blanco, illus. by Dav Pilkey. Little, Brown, $18 (40p) ISBN 978-0-316-37144-5

The creator of Captain Underpants might seem a surprising choice to illustrate a serious poem written in honor of President Obama’s second inauguration, but Pilkey’s work shines. In incantatory free verse, Blanco draws American themes together from dawn (“One sun rose on us today, kindled over our shores,/ peeking over the Smokies”) to twilight (“We head home: through the gloss of rain or weight/ of snow, or the plum blush of dusk”), remembering throughout his immigrant parents and the gifts they gave him. Pilkey imagines the day through the eyes of a small, city-dwelling family as an older woman shepherds her two children to the park, there to wait for the end of her shift at the grocery store. This is a family that expresses in microcosm a hope for the whole country; its members have hair and skin of different colors, and their love is palpable. Pilkey’s landscapes, backlit in deep, stained-glass hues, recall the old-world village scenes of Chagall. Blanco is a graceful wordsmith, and Pilkey transforms his poem into a story that children can make their own. Ages 3–6. [em]Author’s agent: Frank Cimler. Illustrator’s agent: Amy Berkower, Writers House. (Nov.)[/em]