Paul Janeczko begins this compilation with a simple, yet informative introduction to his methodology of selecting and compiling the poems found in this book. He gives a brief history of each literary age that he included, (early Middle Ages to contemporary poets), and how he went about choosing poems from each of the cannons. I found that giving the reader a framework to his approach was extremely helpful and it informed my reading of the book throughout. I found myself paying greater attention to the flow of the poems from page to page, making it a more enjoyable read overall.
I particularly enjoyed Janeczko’s ordering of nature poems to industrial poems. Even though the theme of the book is “50 objects” from the Middle Ages to the present, it was nice to have a varied interpretation of the theme from that of the natural world to the manmade.
Chris Raschka’s illustrations are a perfect match for a book of poetry; as his illustrations are like visual poetry, open to interpretation, but with enough structure to give the reader a starting point for their imagination. His vibrant colors and moving lines entice the reader through the compilation, with each page offering a unique visual for the poem of choice. I love Raschka’s illustrations, because they are unassuming and confident. If I were to give a child a painting, I’d want it to be one of his since I think they convey the idea that art is both subjective and representational - but most importantly, that art is fun! These illustrations are just as fun as the accompanying words.
The hardback covers, as well as the large size of the pages, are perfect for little hands to hold while adults will find equal enjoyment from reading the collection aloud (or reading them without children!), and I found it to be an accessible book in all aspects. This collection is a definitive guide through the history of poetry, and a perfect example that words (and paintings) live on throughout the centuries.