- A Song about Myself by John Keats
ISBN 978-0-7636-5090-2 $17.99
Reviewed from galleys R 6-9 yrs
Fear not, people who are dreading some sort of lofty “Ode to a Nightingale”–esque extravaganza—the Keats poem forming the text for this picture book is a bouncy, witty little thing, written to his sister in a letter. The poem features a boy (Keats himself, though audiences don’t need to know that) who packs up and leaves London to find his way in Scotland, where he writes and fishes and delights—and eventually realizes that despite location, many things remain the same. While the verse, presented in three parts, will still be a bit of a stretch for contemporary young people, there’s plenty worth stretching for in the playful short lines, the occasional riddling element, and the quick patter of the pace—indeed, it would be surprisingly suited to a rap-style readaloud performance. Raschka’s free-flowing watercolors pick up the nursery-rhyme folksiness in the lines and also have a touch of Keats’ near-contemporary Edward Lear in their joyful absurdity. If you’re looking to cunningly thread some canonical poetry into a collection or seeking to springboard a comparison between verse then and now, this will fill the bill. Don’t miss the end-paper maps where Raschka’s New York faces off with Keats’ western Scotland.