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Walt Whitman: Words for America by Barbara…

Walt Whitman: Words for America

by Barbara Kerley

Other authors: Brian Selznick (Illustrator)

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Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
An excellent introduction to American poet Walt Whitman. I appreciated the author's attention not only to his youth but also his many years of service in hospitals during the Civil War. Selznic's old time images transport the reader to the years that Whitman was roaming all over hte country. ( )
  lisaladdvt | Jul 3, 2019 |
Walt Whitman: Words for America tells a touching narrative of how Whitman wrote his way through the civil war. The story explains how Whitman traveled all across the country right before the civil war and how he saw the tension brewing. During the war Whitman continued to travel and document what he witnessed along the way. The book tells of how Whitman became close to President Lincoln and how hard it was for him when he heard about Lincoln’s assassination. All in all, this book does a great job of describing Whitman’s motives throughout his entire life, and I think it would be a great picture book for readers who are beginning to learn about poetry/famous poets. ( )
  bhammant | Oct 26, 2018 |
I am a fan of Brian Selznick so I was thrilled to discover that he illustrated Walt Whitman: Words for America. I didn't know much about Walt Whitman's life before reading this book and I was deeply moved by his story. I was especially moved by Whitman's actions during the Civil War, when after searching for his brother, who was wounded in the war, Whitman stayed at the hospital for the duration of the war, tending to the wounded soldiers. The story is well written and the seamless use of Whitman's poetry throughout brings new meaning to verses I'd heard before. The illustrations were incredible and Selznick captured deep emotions in his illustrations. I have not seen many of Selznick's works in color. ( )
  Rachael_Robbins | Jul 15, 2018 |
Before reading Walt Whitman, I had never really loved poetry. Of course there were some poems and poets I enjoyed more than others, but I had never experienced poetry the same--before or since--Whitman. The intense imagery and depth of feeling resonated with me as a young reader in high school, and for the first time, poetry felt real and profound.

Walt Whitman: Words of America is a beautiful tribute to Whitman's life and work for children. The illustrations rival Whitman's own approach to detail, and artist Brian Selznick masterfully captures a variety of emotions layered and embedded throughout Whitman's life in pictures. The dynamic layout offers a mix of full-page and smaller illustrations and text, making the book feel more like a piece of workable art than a traditional children's picturebook. Lines of Whitman's poetry are occasionally included in the illustrations, making them visual representations of the poetry itself. One of my favorite illustrations is that opposite the title page: the illustrator's rendition of the title in typeset as Whitman might've arranged it as a child, working as a printer's apprentice. It's not particularly profound, but the image is playful since the letters are presented backwards. I appreciate how it sets the tone for the book, letting readers know that this will be visually appealing and intellectually stimulating.

Kerley's text is educational and informative, and I appreciate that she includes several lines of Whitman's poetry (and one of his letters) to illustrate her point and include his text in the biography. However, I feel as though this book is a case in which the illustrations and style are in danger of overshadowing the text. The book's cover is magnificent: deep matte green, set off with gold typeface, decorative scrollwork, and a color illustration of a young Walt Whitman. Selznick's illustrations could arguably stand alone. Although the text is valuable and not in any way lacking in itself, I felt at times that it slows the pace, and I found myself, an avid Whitman fan, often ready to move on to the next topic. Given the picturebook nature of Walt Whitman: Words for America, there is simply just too much text for what I was expecting. Also, to note, Kerley chose to focus on the Civil War as a major event in Whitman's life. Again, there's nothing wrong with this, but I was hoping to read more about Whitman's early life and influences.

As for using this book in the classroom, I'm not sure if I would use it directly. I might include it in a class library and booktalk it during a poetry unit, but depending on time constraints in the classroom, I think the book has too much text to read together as a class. (It took me just under 17 minutes to read the text at a listener-appropriate pace.) Still, I think the imagery and context available in the text offers students a different perspective on the American classic. ( )
  sgudan | Apr 12, 2017 |
Dramatic book design brings Whitman and the historical context to life.

Sometimes the illustrations are subdued on one side of the page spread, the other side having lots of text and white space; sometimes a picture takes up both sides with almost no text. The motion, the flow, is also effective, for example when facing illustrations are of different episodes, but still work off each other.

The text is clear and accessible, not at all too long. And the notes at the end are thorough and well-organized. Several important poems and sections are reproduced, so the reader has no excuse to say 'Oh I'll have to look up his work sometime later....
" ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 6, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Barbara Kerleyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Selznick, BrianIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0439357918, Hardcover)

The pioneering team that brought you the Caldecott Honor-winning THE DINOSAURS OF WATERHOUSE HAWKINS focuses their remarkable skills and vision on Walt Whitman--poet, American, Civil War hero.

Did you know that poet Walt Whitman was also a Civil War nurse? Devastated by his country dividing and compelled to service by his brother's war injury, Walt nursed all soldiers-Union & Confederate, black & white. By getting to know them through many intense and affecting experiences, he began to see a greater life purpose: His writing could give these men a voice, & in turn, achieve his greatest aspiration--to capture the true spirit of America. Dramatic, powerful, & deeply moving, this consummate portrait of Whitman will inspire readers to pick up their pens & open their hearts to humanity.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:16 -0400)

A biography of the American poet whose compassion led him to nurse soldiers during the Civil War, to give voice to the nation's grief at Lincoln's assassination, and to capture the true American spirit in verse.

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