cover image This Is a Poem That Heals Fish

This Is a Poem That Heals Fish

Jean-Pierre Simeon, , illus. by Olivier Tallec. . Enchanted Lion, $16.95 (48pp) ISBN 978-1-59270-067-7

F rench poet Siméon doesn't explain what poetry is: he portrays a poem in the making. Arthur's fish, Leon, languishes in his bowl. “Hurry,” his mother says, sailing off to her tuba lesson, “give him a poem!” But Arthur doesn't know what a poem is, so he asks a charming collection of eccentric neighbors, each painted by Tallec in delicate pencil lines and wet strokes of vibrant color. “A poem, Arthur, is when you are in love and have the sky in your mouth,” says Lolo, the bicycle repairman. Mahmoud, who “comes from the desert,” says, “A poem is when you hear the heartbeat of a stone.” “A poem,” says Arthur's grandmother, “turns words around, upside down, and—suddenly!—the world is new.” Tallec paints what Arthur sees as he listens: Lolo flying through the clouds with his girlfriend, Mahmoud kneeling close to a rock under the desert sun, a giant whale swimming upside-down through an inverted city street. When Arthur returns to Leon and strings together the answers he's received—“A poem is when you have the sky in your mouth”—they make, children will perceive, a perfectly beautiful poem. Exuding magic and unbridled creativity on every page, this is a book with the potential to heal more than just fish. Ages 4-8. (Apr.)