cover image Silver Seeds: A Book of Nature Poems

Silver Seeds: A Book of Nature Poems

Paul Paolilli, Dan Brewer. Viking Children's Books, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-670-88941-9

Johnson and Fancher's (My Many Colored Days) progression of paintings captures an uncanny likeness to the shifting light during the course of a single day, inspired by a first-time-author team's evocative poems. The authors explore the great outdoors in a series of economical verses for which a word's letters begin each line of text. In one of the strongest poems, ""Rain"" becomes ""Rap-tap-tapping/ At my window/ In drip-drop/ Notes."" Because of the brevity of the poems, the success lies in the metaphor, and the authors come up with some perfect matches: ""Stars"" are ""Silver seeds/ Tossed in the air/ And planted in the sky,/ Reaching out of the darkness/ Sprouting wonder,"" and the moon a ""Marvelous melon, whole/ Or sliced,/ Offering sweet flavor to the/ Night."" The chronology of the poems flows as smoothly as the passing of time: ""Dawn"" gives way to ""Sun"" then ""Shadow""; ""Clouds"" is followed by ""Fog"" then ""Rain."" Johnson and Fancher's illustrations hew to a Shaker-like spareness. They often focus on one central imageDa bright hummingbird hovering at a deep purple morning glory, a single turquoise butterfly fluttering through a field of sunlit poppiesDand they link the poems by featuring a boy and girl, sometimes together, sometimes alone. In one particularly dramatic spread, ""Fog,"" the children hold hands, enveloped by a swirl of gray. A dazzling example of how poetry can prompt readers to view ordinary experiences through fresh eyes. Ages 5-9. (Mar.)