cover image A Song About Myself

A Song About Myself

John Keats, illus. by Chris Raschka. Candlewick, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-7636-5090-2

At age 22, Romantic poet John Keats (1795–1821) wrote home to his younger sister, Fanny, while hiking the hills of Scotland. His letter included a playful and self-deprecating “song about myself,” whimsically illustrated by Raschka (A Ball for Daisy) in watercolor scenes bisected by brightly colored arrows that allude to a long journey in progress. Described as a “naughty boy,” the poet “ran away to Scotland/ The people for to see/ Then he found/ That the ground/ Was as hard.... That a door/ Was as wooden/ As in England.” If Keats’s boy-poet sounds disillusioned, Raschka pictures him as energetic and outdoorsy, leaning against a tree, marveling at a butterfly, and soaking up the sun in all seasons. Raschka fittingly dedicates this edition to his own sister, and his endpapers make connections across time and space, too: a collapsed map imagines the islands of New York City abutting those of Scotland. It’s a enchanting and intimate glimpse of the distant, anthologized Keats as a conversational letter writer who once “stood in his shoes/ And... wonder’d” at his world. Ages 6–9. Agent: Brenda Bowen, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. (Mar.)