I knew I was going to love love love this book. We have a bit of a Melissa Sweet addiction here (I always get all wrapped up in Maine children’s book authors and maybe sort of stalk them a little). Her illustrations manage to straddle this line between childlike and jaw-droppingly professionally awesome. In other words, perfect for children’s book. And here’s this: a book about William Carlos Williams, who was just begging to be made into a children’s book also.
One thing I love is that the way the story is told, kids might not even really get at first that it’s about a real person, but might just think it’s about a poetic boy named Willie who later becomes a poetic doctor man. (Unlike Walt Whitman: Words for America which I also love but which is unmistakenly about a guy, you know?) And so then later in high school when they’re studying poetry, suddenly they’ll think, “Wait! I know this guy! This is a real guy?” and everything will overlap and coincide and they’ll realize there was more in those kid books than they knew.
A River of Words is just simple and perfect and lovely, just like Williams’s poems, and there are all kinds of special bits in the illustrations to see upon subsequent readings. Henry is completely riveted every time I read this. I love it.