It’s Poetry Friday and in honor of the recent launch of Project Splash! Asia (an annotated bibliography of water-themed stories from and about Asia), I thought that today it would be appropriate to highlight a poetry book about water! Here’s our review of Water Sings Blue: Ocean Poems written by Kate Coombs and illustrated by Meilo So (Chronicle Books, 2012). For those of us with summer holidays just around the corner Water Sings Blue is the perfect picture book to bring on a trip to the beach. If your young readers can’t wait for a trip to the beach, this book will take them there immediately in their imagination! Enjoy!
Kate Coombs, illustrated by Meilo So,
Water Sings Blue: Ocean Poems
Chronicle Books, 2012.
The finely tuned observation in both the poetry and illustrations of Water Sings Blue draws young readers into that world of the shoreline where time just seems to disappear and exploration offers up endless possibilities for discovery. Kate Coombs’ poems are satisfyingly memorable, with their cohesive patterns of meter and rhyme that, nevertheless, contain plenty of surprises – like, for example, the alliteration and internal rhyming at the end of “Sand’s Story”, in which mighty rocks have turned to sand:
Now we grind and we grumble,
humbled and grave,
at the touch of our breaker
and maker, the wave.
… Not to mention the witty pun on “breaker”: and the gentle wit of Coomb’s verse also lights the imagination throughout this collection.
Turning the pages, readers encounter a vast array of sea characters, starting in the air with the seagull; then listening to “What the Waves Say” before diving down to meet the creatures of the deep: like the shy octopus author (think ink…), or the beautiful but self-absorbed fish whose tail and fins act as brushes, and who concludes his/her soliloquy with the wonderfully evocative: “I’m a water artist. / You wouldn’t understand.” As well as creatures like sharks and jellyfish, there are poems about fascinating, less well-known fish – “Oarfish”, “Gulper Eel” and “Nudibranch”: they could become a follow-up project by themselves! There’s also a deep-sea shipwreck, and back on the sea shore, a gnarled “Old Driftwood” telling stories “to all the attentive / astonished twigs”, and a property agent hermit crab with a salesman’s patter.
Bringing all the poems together in a visual feast are Meilo So’s gorgeous watercolors. As well as her depiction of jewel-colored corals and waves in every shade of blue imaginable, her illustrations are clearly also influenced by direct observation of the shoreline around her Shetland Isle home, from fishermen’s cottages to diving gannets.
Just like in real beachcombing, young readers will lose track of time as they pore over So’s seashores for what they can find.