cover image I Talk Like a River

I Talk Like a River

Jordan Scott, illus. by Sydney Smith. Holiday House/Porter, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-8234-4559-2

Sometimes a few words can transform a child’s life. In this autobiographical story by Canadian poet Scott (Night & Ox, for adults), a boy who stutters is given a new way to think about his speech. He describes words in his mouth and the anguish of his classroom: “All those eyes watching/ my lips/ twist and twirl,/ all those mouths/ giggling/ and laughing.” One “bad speech day,” his father picks him up from school and takes him to the quiet river, where they look for rocks and sit on the bank. “See how that water moves? That’s how you speak,” his father says. Following frustration-tinged spreads, Smith (Small in the City) zooms in on the boy’s face as he watches the river “bubbling, churning, whirling, and crashing.” He closes his eyes, taking in the words’ meaning, then ventures into the water, shown in a shimmering double gatefold. “This is what I like to remember,/ to help stop myself from crying/ I talk like a river.” Artwork makes the internal change a light-filled experience, an account of the moment in which the child experiences himself and his individual way of speaking as part of the great forces of the natural world. Ages 4–8. [em]Author’s agent: Hilary McMahon, Westwood Creative Artists. Illustrator’s agent: Emily Van Beek, Folio Jr./Folio Literary Management. (Sept.) [/em]