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Literature
The Barefoot Book of Classic Poems  
Compiled and illustrated by Jackie Morris
Illustrated. 128 pp.
Barefoot Books. US$19.99
ISBN-10: 1905236565 / ISBN-13: 9781905236565

The Barefoot Book of Classic Poems is a lovely, charming, and beautiful book of children's poetry. The talented Jackie Morris has chosen lyrical poems that, as a body, richly celebrate and explore the inner experience of being alive on the planet. As such, it is a collection that ranks with the best of children's literature, the finest of which does not hide but rather portrays the fullness of life, be it sorrow, joy, loss, love, death, even war. This is not a collection of nursery rhymes, but rather of poems by "adult poets" who wrote works for children.

For example, e.e. cummings' "maggie and milly and molly and may" is included, as is Lewis Carroll's classic, "The Jabberwocky." Kathleen Raine's "Spell of Creation" is enticing as it unfolds through seed, tree, sea, world, and love. Walter de la Mare's imaginings of what he would do if he were Lord of Tartary capture the imagination in "Tartary." Edna St. Vincent Millay creates an intriguing atmosphere in "Recuerdo," where the sun rises "dripping, a bucketful of gold" as two all-night revelers bestow fruit upon an early-morning street vendor. Walt Whitman invokes loafing as only Whitman can in a selection from "Song of Myself." Dylan Thomas' "Fern Hill" recollects the easy timelessness of youth.

The selection of poems is superb, but it is the illustrations in The Barefoot Book of Classic Poems that are truly extraordinary. Each poem is illustrated with a detailed, flowing, richly colored, and uniquely relevant work of art. The artwork is at once fantastical and strongly rooted in nature. All of the subjects are treated with sensitivity, creativity, and dignity. The illustration for Ted Hughes' "Amulet" is a close-up of the eyes of a wolf. It is captivating and beautiful. The details of the trees and ethereality of the moon in the background of the dog in the illustration for Irene McCleod's "Lone Dog" are beautiful and clearly the work of a highly skilled artist. The pages illustrated for Marianne Moore's "The Fish" simply feel like water.

Jackie Morris is a children’s book illustrator and watercolor artist.

Sylvia Breau, for Notable Book Reviews
Notable Book Reviews received one or more copies of this book in exchange for this review.
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