Salas, Laura Purdie. BookSpeak!: Poems About Books. Illus. Josée Bisaillon. New York: Clarion Books, 2011.
BookSpeak! also presents a topical collection of poems about books. Each poem relates to readers, literary elements, writing, or book elements. Salas’s poems also reveal a variety of styles, including acrostic poems and free verse.
Salas’s poems include a plethora of poetic and literary elements. She uses rhythm adeptly to create a spirited tone. In the opening poem, “Calling All Readers,” she incorporates rhyme, repetition, and appeals to the audience in order to create an anthem, inviting the audience to read. The rhythms and rhymes consistently create a jubilant tone, reiterating the entertaining nature of literature. In “A Character Pleads for His Life,” a nameless character pleads, “if you don’t help me, I will not survive/Only your actions can keep me alive,” imploring readers to liberate the characters trapped inside books. Additionally, Salas formats her poems to reflect their content. For example, in “On the Shelf and Under the Bed,” the used, bent, and read books are represented through free verse, symbolizing the liberated nature or their consumption. On the other hand, “Index” is much more structured, reflecting the strict configuration of an index. Overall, the poems are fanciful and endorse the jubilant, charming nature of books. Her poems, for the most part, were artistic and moving; yet, “The Middle’s Lament: A Poem for Three Voices” was trite and convoluted. Despite this, it is a beautiful collection of poetry and will inspire others to enjoy the world of literature.
Josée Bisaillon illustrated BookSpeak! with a combination of drawing and collage. The art and poetry, in this case, are entwined and rely on one another. For example, “Skywriting” portrays black ink splotches, which turn into birds on a wire, as the poem describes words of a book as black birds against a white sky. Furthermore, the art itself is poetic. “If a Tree Falls” compares unopened books to birds trapped in a cage, and Bisaillon poignantly depicts a cage with some of the birds consisting of pages from books. Also, every poem is accompanied by an illustration, so that every poem has a visual partner. As far as formatting, Salas also played a part in the visual nature of her book by manipulating her text. For example, in “Cliffhanger” the last line of the poem tapers off as if falling from a cliff. Salas and Bisaillon’s collaboration concluded in a well-rounded anthology of poetry and art.
Cardon, Donna. "Bookspeak!: Poems About Books." School Library Journal 57.12 (2011): 104-105. Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts with Full Text. Web. 27 Feb. 2013.
"The poems are, by turns, philosophical, humorous, and even instructional. Typeset is creative, and the titles appear in a variety of artistic font styles and colors. Whimsical, mixed-media illustrations grace every page. Bisaillon skillfully incorporates the printed poems into the artwork so that the words and images have a single, unified, visual effect. This is an appealing offering that will be especially popular with librarians."
"Bookspeak! Poems About Books." Publishers Weekly 258.42 (2011): 67. Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts with Full Text. Web. 27 Feb. 2013.
" From the outset, this collection of poems makes its message clear: books arc where it's at. Salas's polished verse demonstrates a deep love for all aspects of books, from their content to their creators."
This anthology could be read with other topical anthologies on similar or different topics.
Students could create their own poems or anthologies about the importance of reading and books.
Student could read Stampede!, another collection by Salas.