Last week I read this article in the Toronto Star and just yesterday I picked up the book which the article refers to “Black Stars in a White Night Sky” by JonArno Lawson and illustrated by Sherwin Tijia. The illustrations are simple and powerful. One of my favourite poems in the book is “Love” and I think part of what I really like about this poem is the illustration matches with it so well. As a graduate student I couldn’t help but relate to “Being Thoughtless” as sometimes I wish it were easier to set aside thoughts and worries. I cried and then laughed when reading Humpty Dumpty – I had thought he was hard-boiled! The words in “The Maple Leaves that Mabel Leaves” were wonderful to read aloud. Poems such as “The days have names” and “How without arms” really show how well JonArno can write and question things that happen in a way which children appreciate and often do themselves. Some other pensive poems I recommend in this book are “An Adventure Begins” and “I Practiced”. I love the Ontario element added to the book as well with the poems “Etobicoke”, “Pembroke” and “Music Lessons at the Hamilton Armouries”. JonArno’s poems are lyrical, nonsensical, often pensive, sometimes loving and much of the time funny. Poetical devices used include alliteration, rhyme, rhythm and repetition which roll off the tongue smoothly and in such a fun way that children are sure to love listening to and saying the poems themselves. For me this book deserves a place next to Alligator Pie – it is that good and definitely I love it more than Shel Silverstein’s poetry (which I hold pretty closely to my heart).
Congratulations to JonArno Lawson and Sherwin Tijia on winning the Lion and the Unicorn award – this book is most deserving of this award and I can’t wait to check out more work by both. To read some poetry by found in this book and to see other books by this Toronto author check out his website.