Marshmallow Clouds: Two Poets at Play among Figures of Speech

Marshmallow Clouds: Two Poets at Play among Figures of Speech
Co-Authors / Illustrators
Age Range
Release Date
March 15, 2022
Buy This Book
Celebrated poets Ted Kooser along with Connie Wanek, and illustrator Richard Jones, explore figures of speech in a spirited and magical way—and invite our imaginations out to play.

A freewheeling romp through the world of imagery and metaphor, this quietly startling collection of thirty poems, framed by the four elements, is about art and reality, fact and fancy. Look around: what do you see? A clown balancing a pie in a tree, or an empty nest perched on a leafless branch? As poet Connie Wanek alludes to in her afterword—a lively dialogue with former US Poet Laureate Ted Kooser—sometimes the simplest sights and sounds “summon our imaginations” and cry out to be clothed in the alchemical language of poetry. This compendium of the fleeting and unexpected turns the everyday—turtles, trees, and tadpoles; cow pies, lazy afternoons, and pillowy white marshmallows—into poetic gold. A brilliant and timeless collaboration that evokes both the mystery and grandeur of the natural world and the cozy, mundane moments of daily life, this exquisitely illustrated collection is the go-to gift book of the season for poetry fans of all ages.

Editor review

1 review
Elemental Poetry Collection
Overall rating
Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
Learning Value
This collection of over 25 poems is grouped into elements; fire, water, air, and earth. Each poem has an illustrations accompanying it. As the title indicates, the poems feature a lot of figurative language, which made me want to look into this; our seventh graders often have a poetry study unit that has them looking at poetry collections for different poetic features like metaphors, similes, personification, and (my favorite!) synecdoche! While the poems are rich with these different features, I was a tiny bit disappointed that some of the language wasn't labeled, and there weren't any explanations of how such language is used. This is purely a personal disappointment, but given the title of the book, I had great hopes.

The poems are well crafted; there's a fireplace that is always hungry, a field being planted that is compared to "black waves", and a lovely poem about an afternoon sky where the clouds are compared to cobwebs. These are all in blank, free verse, which is largely unmetered as well. My favorite is probably "Book", where the book is compared to a sandwich, with a "crisp bookmark... a leaf of romaine!".
Good Points
The illustrations have a transparent, almost sponge painted texture to them that plays up the "marshmallow cloud" theme. They also have a rather spare feeling to them, and use dark and light values in interesting ways. Jones' treatment of skies is particularly effective, and these backgrounds appear in "The Village Tennis Court", "Spring", and "June Afternoon". There are also some lovely trees, especially accompanying "Winter Ponies".

The other requirement that the poetry project at my school featured was the memorization of a poem that has at least 40 words in it, and most of these would be eligible. I would probably chose to memorize the ode to a "Remote", which is quirky but really paints a great picture of the philosophical concept of a remote control.

This reminded me a bit of Schaub's Fresh-picked Poetry : a Day at the Farmers' Market, Siebert's
Tour America : a Journey through Poems and Art, or Yolen's Color Me A Rhyme. It's a great choice for readers who like their poems arranged somewhat thematically and want quality illustrations to accompany them.
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