Written by Shannon Bramer Illustrated by Cindy Derby Groundwood Books (House of Anansi Press)
The poems in Climbing Shadows were inspired by a class of kindergarten children whom poet and playwright Shannon Bramer came to know over the course of a school year. She set out to write a poem for each child, sharing her love of poetry with them, and made an anthology of the poems for Valentine’s Day.
This original collection reflects the children’s joys and sorrows, worries and fears, moods and sense of humor. Some poems address common themes such as having a hard day at school, feeling shy or being a newcomer, while others explore subjects of fascination — bats, spiders, skeletons, octopuses, polka dots, racing cars and birthday parties. Evident throughout the book is a love of words and language and the idea that there are all kinds of poems and that they are for everyone — to read or write.
Cindy Derby’s dreamy watercolor illustrations gently complement each poem. Beautiful, thoughtful, sensitive and funny, this is an exceptional collection.
“Do you remember that scene in Orlando by Virginia Woolf where a bunch of witty people are in a room saying witty things and then Alexander Pope walks in and says three things so devastatingly witty that he just destroys everything? That’s what happens when Climbing Shadows gets paired alongside other collections of poetry. Smart. Honestly heartfelt. Utterly beautiful to look at. See the bar? Yeah. It just got raised.” (Full Review here)
—Betsy Bird, School Library Journal