Thursday, November 28, 2019

Always Give Thanks: Thanku: Poems of Gratitude

Today in the United States, we celebrate Thanksgiving, but giving thanks is for every day, not just one. 

     "....We need to give thanks
     every dawn
     for the gifts of life,
     for each breath drawn...."

So opens Thanku: Poems of Gratitude, with "Giving Thanks" by Joseph Bruchac.

This book, edited by Miranda Paul, includes poems by top children's poets who give thanks for creation, birds, sky, stars, the number zero, friends, puppies, and more. Each poem is written in a different form, defined in the back matter for readers who want to know more or try their own. You have probably heard of quatrains, but how about a fib?

Contributors are a list of who's who in children's literature including (in addition to Bruchac named above) Margarita Engle, Kenn Nesbitt, Jane Yolen, Diana Murray, Renee M. LaTulippe, Charles Ghigna, Traci Sorrell, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Charles Waters, Carole Lindstrom, Sylvia Liu, and current Young People's Poet Laureate, Naomi Shihab Nye, as well as many others.

Editor Paul and publisher Millbrook Press sought and got diversity among poets, formats, and topics. The book, released in September is winning awards and being named to "Best of 2019" lists.

I was especially thrilled to meet illustrator Marlena Myles at this fall's Northern Plains Indian Art Market! We were able to chat for some time about her part in the book's creation. She said that the publisher let her voice opinions and design spreads the way she wanted them, though this was sometimes challenging because of the disparate topics juxtaposed on either side of the page. She kept her primary audience--kids--in mind as she worked.

The story of the page on the right below, illustrating "Nothing to Be Grateful For" by Padma Venkatraman, was amazing to me. Myles said she translated the poem, about the number zero, into binary code!

This is an extraordinary book about gratitude for ordinary things. The details will keep me coming back to it over and over. 

I am thankful for Thanku!