cover image One Quiet Morning

One Quiet Morning

Helena Clare Pittman. Lerner Publishing Group, $19.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-87614-838-9

Trying to write a poem for school, Gerald is distracted by a sequence of noises: hair dryer, helicopter, backfiring car, chainsaw, boom box. ""It's too noisy to think,"" sighs his apple-pie-baking Gram, who misses the tranquility of her youth (""There were all the sounds of life, but not so much--noise""). The next morning, the boy finds inspiration in the ""wisps of pink streak[ing] the sky"" and the ""dew sparkl[ing] on a spider's web,"" etc., and he finally gets his poem on paper. Presented largely as a pastiche of sounds, thoughts and dialogue, Pittman's (Counting Jennie) subdued text never quite coalesces, and readers may easily lose interest, especially as Gerald's paean to nature reinforces tiresome cliches about poetry and what constitutes a proper subject for a poem. Illustrations in the first part of the book, presumably reflecting the protagonist's jumbled thoughts, portray the noise-making objects and scraps of pages from Gerald's notebook. Gerald's nature poem, by contrast, is accompanied by peaceful, traditional watercolors of birds, flowers and insects. Gram's nostalgic aesthetic has triumphed. Ages 5-8. (July)