cover image LEAF BY LEAF: Autumn Poems

LEAF BY LEAF: Autumn Poems

Barbara Rogasky, , illus. by Marc Tauss. . Scholastic, $15.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-590-25347-5

Perhaps more suitable for the coffee table than as a poetry book for children, this visually impressive collection has a striking cover with glittering, bronze letters, and contains dazzling photographs. Whether newcomer Tauss uses black and white, sepia or color film, the results are spectacular. Sunlight transforms the spattered rain and dirt on a window into gold dust swept away by "The Window Washer" (by Charles Simic). A multicolored prism of light envelops a young man lifting a golden ball to the sky (Gerard Manley Hopkins's "The Alchemist in the City"). The poems, on the other hand, seem to pale in comparison, not because of the skill of the excellent poets included, but because 17 of the 25 verses are snippets taken from longer poems. For instance, while the fragmented stanza from Shelley's "Hymn to Intellectual Beauty" is metaphorically interesting, when taken out of context, it is less potent. As if secondary to the visual images, the poem fragments are superimposed directly on top of the photographs, often making the text difficult to read. The book's melancholy tone, its linguistically challenging syntax and its exploration of old age and endings, will likely be of more interest to adults than to children. Ages 7-up. (Sept.)