cover image Poems in Black and White

Poems in Black and White

Kate Miller, . . Boyds Mills/Wordsong, $17.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-1-59078-412-9

Both the lyrical poems and artful monotypes in this handsomely designed volume explore images in black and white. A dandelion's "head is filled with/ winged seeds—her fluffy/ cloud-white dreams held/ back like eager children." The family dog hears the "scented sound/ of thieving paws" belonging to a raccoon with "white around/ [his] bandit eyes." Each poem is etched like frost on a windowpane, the images both precise and evocative. While the topics focus on objects and people familiar to a young audience, the tone, voice and vocabulary of the poems may be better suited to an older audience. Nostalgic entries celebrate a shock of white hair in a mother's ebony hair or the inked footprints of a newborn, "unique to you that/ mark you mine/ ten rounded toes/ like stepping stones/ left and right/ a perfect pair/ adventure bound." Nonetheless, the poems and intriguing illustrations are startling: on a black page, the white in the poem "Comet" takes the physical shape of a comet falling from the sky, while on the opposite page the illustration elegantly captures the image of "a swirling smudge/ of luminescent white/ .../ as if some/ impish thumb/ had smeared/ a star/ before/ the night/ had dried." These poems and illustrations illuminate simple moments—"snow-white blossoms" of popcorn escaping from a pot, a black cat basking near white lace curtains—with remarkable sensitivity and insight. Ages 6-up. (Mar.)