cover image A Caribbean Dozen: Poems from Caribbean Poets

A Caribbean Dozen: Poems from Caribbean Poets

. Candlewick Press (MA), $19.95 (96pp) ISBN 978-1-56402-339-1

Blue as an island sea or green as a spotted snake, the vibrant images in this collection celebrate the work of 13 Caribbean poets. Stark watercolors with thick black outlines are interspersed with gentle portraits and with exuberant collages-whether Felstead is depicting ``Count Laughula'' (Agard) or a ``boat made from/ half a dry coconut/ skin'' (Marc Matthews), she lends to them the tropical colors of tamarind, custard apples and the poinciana. Some poems, particularly those in dialect-``Who dat girl, her eye dem bright/ Like nighttime peeny-wallie?'' (Valerie Bloom)-are so specific to Caribbean culture that American audiences may have difficulty discerning the meaning, while a few seem little more than lists of exotic plants and fruit. Fortunately, most entries address the universal concerns of children in language saturated with the sounds and colors of the region. The poets' short personal essays preceding their verse warmly amplify what Agar and Nichols call ``their formative meeting with the magic of the word.'' Ages 4-up. (Nov.)