What The Heart Knows Review

what_the_heart_knowsWhat the Heart Knows: Chants, Charms, & Blessings by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski

HMH Books for Young Readers, 2013. 978-0544106161

Synopsis: What the Heart Knows: Chants, Charms, and Blessings is a collection of poems to provide comfort, courage, and humor at difficult or daunting moments in life. It conjures forth laments, spells, invocations, chants, blessings, promises, songs, and charms. Here are pleas on how to repair a friendship, wishes to transform one’s life or to slow down time, charms to face the shame of a disapproving crowd, invocations to ask for forgiveness, to understand the mysteries of happiness, and to bravely face a dark and different world. – from Amazon.com

Why I picked it up: I enjoyed Dark Emperor so much that I wanted to check out more of Sidman’s poetry.

Why I finished it: I’m not going to do this book very much justice trying to convey the beauty and heartfelt emotion of these poems. Much like Holbrook’s Walking on the Boundaries of Change, these poems speak to turning points in our lives, our struggles with new emotions, new feelings, new situations in which we have never found ourselves. Most of the poems employ a sort of free verse feel to them, but Sidman throws in some specific forms as well, most notably a triolet and two ubi sunts. Zagarenski’s illustrations employ a sort of collage feel that reminded me of Shaun Tan’s work in Lost & Found and Tales from Outer Suburbia – they are transportive and transformative, mixing the realistic with the mythical. On a side note, I totally want to wallpaper my room with these pictures – they are wholly imaginative and inspiring, just as the poems are. These poems are quiet reminders of who we are, where we came from, and where we are going in our never-ending journey to establish a sense of self and a sense of order in the world around us.

Other related materials: This is Just to Say: Poems of Apology and Forgiveness by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski; Red Sings From the Treetops: A Year in Colors by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski; Forgive Me, I Meant to Do It: False Apology Poems by Gail Carson Levine, illustrated by Matthew Cordell; Giving Thanks: Poems, Prayers, and Praise Songs of Thanksgiving edited by Katherine Paterson, illustrated by Pamela Dalton; Words of Thanksgiving: Prayers, Poems, and Meditations collected by Nancy Streza; A Kick in the Head: An Everyday Guide to Poetic Forms selected by Paul B. Janeczko, illustrated by Chris Raschka; A Foot in the Mouth: Poems to Speak, Sing, and Shout edited by Paul B. Janeczko, illustrated by Chris Raschka; A Poke in the I: A Collection of Concrete Poems edited by Paul B. Janeczko, illustrated by Chris Raschka

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