Anthologist extraordinaire Paul Janeczko has once again assembled an exquisite collection of poems: fleeting moments transformed into words like water into snowflakes. In part, his genius stems from a seemingly limitless knowledge of the genre, as well as an innate understanding of his audience. He possesses an instinctive ability to balance the sounds and images of individual selections, one against another, so that echoes build and resonate throughout the collection as a whole. Here’s one version of the wind by Jim Harrison and Ted Kooser: “What is it the wind has lost/ that she keeps looking for/ under each leaf?” In Richard Wright’s world, however, wind is an altogether different thing: “A wild winter wind / Is tearing itself to shreds / On barbed-wire fences.” Every one of our senses is excited by these verses. We see the rain as “soft, cinnamon kisses” in the dust, watch sandpipers “hemming the ocean” with their “needle beaks,” smell the tight-packed scent of Langston Hughes’s subway, “black and white/ so near/ no room for fear,” and hear the sound of November leaves falling “like steps of passing ghosts.” Content, however, is not the only measure of this lovely assemblage. Caldecott Honor illustrator Melissa Sweet, who has partnered with Janeczko in the past, has created lush multimedia landscapes, embedding each of the three dozen entries in this four-season collection in its own carefully designed and gloriously tinted environment. The translucent hues of spring give way to summer’s heated shimmer; fall’s darker pallet turns to the icy blues and whites of winter. And as the stars beyond the window finally spell out “The End,” young readers are invited to wipe their feet on a “welcome mat of moonlight,” and so to sleep.

Kristi Elle Jemtegaard


A Year of Very Short Poems

Selected by Paul B. Janeczko

”Firefly July and Other Very Short Poems” by Paul B. Janeczko and Melissa Sweet. (Candlewick/Candlewick)

Illustrated by Melissa Sweet

Candlewick. $16.99. Ages 6-9