William Blake's Inn

Voice Card  -  Volume 32  -  Stuart Card Number 5  -  Sun, May 29, 1994 9:46 PM

This is ONE OF 2 responses to VC 31 Drury 1 ("Children's stories")...

Well, if it's a book of poems for children you're after, I would recommend a book by Nancy Willard called "A Visit to William Blake's Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers."

This book, published in 1981, is inspired by the poetry of William Blake. It features characters such as a tiger (not surprising if you know Blake's work -- "Tyger, tyger burning bright / In the forest of the night / What immortal hand or eye / Dare frame thy fearful symmetry / . . ."), as well as other "non-Blakean" characters, such as a man in a marmalade hat. These are just some of the characters who inhabit this special inn run by William Blake himself. Blake also has a celestial limosine, and in it he takes many of the characters, as well as some children into the stars.

I think the book is a classic. It won both the top poetry prize for children in the year it was published (I forget its name) as well as the award for the top children's book (the Caldecott?). The book is illustrated by Alice and Martin Provenson, who have also published books of their illustrations of poems by D.H. Lawrence and Emily Dickinson, by the way.

Another book you might be interested in is by Paul Fleischman. His book "I Am Phoenix: Poems for Two Voices" (Harper & Row, 1985), illustrated by Ken Nutt, consists of poems about birds (that's right, Ms. Avian Veternarian, birds). It is designed to be read by two readers, as is Fleishman's more recent book, "Joyful Noise," which consists of poems about insects. The latter also won the two top prizes for Childrens writing in the year it was published (1989?).

Fleischman and Willard, they're among the two best writers working today (among children or adults). Drink of them heartily. Enjoy.