Poetry Friday ~ Water Sings Blue: Ocean Poems by Kate Coombs, illustrated by Meilo So,

Friday, June 14th, 2013

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.

Ages 4-11

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.

paw_sm3Do read our recent interview with the illustrator of Water Sings Blue, Meilo So, here and see our gallery of her work here.

This week’s Kidlitosphere’s Poetry Friday is hosted by Reflections on the Teche – head on over…

New “Cats and Dogs” theme on the PaperTigers website

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

Head on over to the PaperTigers website, where you will find hundreds of Cats and Dogs waiting to greet you.  I exaggerate only slightly for one of our new features is a Gallery of Korean artist Chinlun Lee‘s work, including illustrations from her delightful picture book The Very Kind Rich Lady and Her One Hundred Dogs.

Japanese illustrator Kae Nishimura also features in our Gallery; and we have new interviews with illustrator Meilo So from her home in the Scottish Shetland Islands and Australian Aboriginal elder and storyteller Gladys Milroy, co-author with her daughter Jill Milroy of our Book of the Month, Dingo’s Tree (Magabala Books, 2012).

Also from Australia, Susanne Gervay has written a Personal View about “The Images of Dogs in Ships in the Field” – Ships in the Field is her latest book and was a project close to her heart since it relates part of her childhood as the daughter of Hungarian refugees.

Our featured authors and illustrators all share stories and photographs of the dogs and cats in their lives.  In the early days of the PaperTigers Blog, Janet wrote a post about reading to her family’s huskies when she was a child.  In my own family, you will often find the dog curled up next to (or on top of) whoever is reading – and over the next couple of months we invite you to send us your photos and/or stories of reading time shared with a pet to be featured here on the Blog – please do email them to me, marjorieATpapertigersDOTorg – we’d love to hear from you.

Poetry Friday/Week-end Book Review: Water Sings Blue by Kate Coombs, illustrated by Meilo So

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

I’m posting my week-end book review a day early to clock in with Poetry Friday as a couple of days ago I received a review copy of Kate Coombs and Meilo So‘s new book Water Sings Blue, which Kate gave us a glimpse of back in January when her first copies arrived (and if you don’t know Kate’s blog, Book Aunt, it’s well worth a read).  It arrived just in time to squeeze it into our Water in Multicultural Children’s Books theme…

Poetry Friday this week is hosted by Dori at Dori Reads…


Kate Coombs, illustrated by Meilo So,
Water Sings Blue: Ocean Poems
Chronicle Books, 2012.

Ages 4-11

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.

Water Sings Blue would be the perfect picture book to bring on a trip to the beach, wherever in the world that happened to be; and if young readers can’t wait for that, it will take them there immediately in their imaginations.


And just a reminder that the count-down to World Read Aloud Day on 7th March has more than begun.  LitWorld are aiming for 1,000,000 participants this year, so do register with them and tell all your friends about it too.  It’s a win-win-win situation – somebody gets to read, somebody gets to enjoy being read to, and everyone raises their voices together to support global literacy goals of every child’s right to education…  And if you’re spreading the word on Twitter, the hashtag is #readaloud – use it to link in to the ever-widening community of WRAD supporters, and connect with LitWorld at @litworldsays.

Poetry Friday: “Ice” by Marilyn Singer

Friday, November 26th, 2010

Little Brother has gone off to school today with his sledge in tow, very chirpy about the early dump of snow we have had in the UK. As I expressed concern about the drive over steep, rural roads to get him there, his touchingly confident, “Don’t worry, Dad can handle it,” just showed the gulf between his vision of the wintery landscape and mine. So I am particularly drawn this morning to Marilyn Singer’s “Ice” from her book of poems Footprints on the Roof: Poems about the Earth (Alfred Knopf, 2002):

[...] Out on the street
Dad windmilled like a slapstick dancer
Mom crept like a mincing crab
We tried to tell them
ice respects no one
If you can’t lick it
trick it
But they didn’t want to hear
Then we looped our scarves across our faces
so they couldn’t see us laugh
and slid across the sidewalk
like the earth was one big rink

Yes, that about hits the nail on the head. I love the allusion to the scarves as well. They use them to stifle their giggles, whereas I am fussing to make sure they’re wrapped up warmly enough.

In the book, the poem is simply and effectively illustrated by Meilo So. Her blend of solid delineation and soft, calligraphic brush strokes throughout the book help to bring the poems alive. A definite favorite in our household is the volcano poem “Dormant Dragons” and its accompanying illustration. Having been introduced to Marilyn Singer’s work through Poetry Friday (thank you, fellow bloggers!), I have been collecting some of her books, and it was Meilo So’s cover art that immediately drew me to this particular poetry book and the rest of the series it belongs to. You can read more about that, including what Marilyn Singer herself says about it, as well as some more poems, in a recent post by Tricia over at The Miss Rumphius Effect. Marilyn also has the poem “Burrows” on her website. You can read a 2003 interview with Meilo here, and see some of her art in our Gallery Feature here and on her blog. And since Meilo lives in the Shetland Isles, I’m sure she can empathise with my choice of poem today, too!

This week’s Poetry Friday is hosted by Ms Mac at Check It Out. Head on over!