This is our first official foray into Nonfiction Monday at the Kidlitosphere with Anastasia Suen. I have looked at some of the earlier posts on Nonfiction Monday and I have seen this title a few times. As luck would have it, our community library here in Singapore has a copy of the book. Naturally, I borrowed it the first chance I got. I also thought it was the perfect book to feature today since Pablo Neruda’s birthday falls on the 12th of July.
THE Pablo Neruda. I knew about Pablo Neruda 15 years ago when I was still in the University – and since then I’ve fallen in love with his poetry. I must admit that there was a phase in my life when I could not get enough of South American authors and I have immersed myself in nothing but Neruda’s words, Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ surrealism, the enchantment of Isabel Allende and the Spanish poet Luis Cernuda. Saying Neruda’s name brings back a flood of bittersweet memories. This is Classic Nostalgia 101. When I saw this picture book, I knew I had to have it. And true enough, I discovered a few things that I never knew about the great Pablo Neruda through this lovely book.
For one, I didn’t know that Pablo was named Neftali when he was a boy. But then he apparently changed his name when he was in his university years and he started sporting those black overcoats that naturally is the true mark of the Poet. This was when he moved to the big city of Santiago and met other writers.
Pablo and his friends walked the streets wearing great black capes and tall hats. They talked about books and shared their poems with all who would listen.
Poetry in Ordinary Things. One of the things I enjoyed about Pablo Neruda is how he is able to capture the beauty in ordinary things, be it an onion, a leaf, a feather, a thimble.
Pablo wrote poems about the things he loved – things made by his artist friends, things found at the marketplace, and things he saw in nature.
He wrote about scissors and thimbles and chairs and rings. He wrote about buttons and feathers and shoes and hats. He wrote about velvet cloth the color of the sea.
Art as a Movement – Voice of the Masses. The strength of this book is its ability to capture the essence of Pablo Neruda, the man, through the beautifully-rendered illustrations and the simple narrative that would not fail to capture one’s fancy and imagination. The words (both in English and Spanish and a few other languages besides) written on leaves, flowers, ocean waves, the sun – were simply inspired. More importantly, the authors were able to capture Pablo’s love for humanity and his advocacy to give voice to the masses:
He joined those who fought for justice and wrote poems to honor all workers who struggled for freedom.
Even when his poems made leaders angry, he would not be silenced, because he was a poet of the people.
About the Author and Illustrator.
Monica Brown, Ph.D. is the author of awardwinning bilingual books for children, including My Name Is Celia: The Life of Celia Cruz/Me llamo Celia: La vida de Celia Cruz (Luna Rising), a recipient of the Américas Award for Children’s Literature and a Pura Belpré Honor. Her second picture book, My Name Is Gabriela: The Life of Gabriela Mistral/Me llamo Gabriela: La vida de Gabriela Mistral (Luna Rising) shares the story of the first Latina to win a Nobel Prize (source here).
If you wish to know more about Monica, this is her official website.
Julie Paschkis’ Bio:
I was born in 1957 and grew up in Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia. My parents encouraged us to read, to draw and to play outside. I still like to do those things. I attended Germantown Friends School, Ringerike Folkehogskole in Norway, Cornell University, and the School for American Craftsmen at RIT where I got a BFA. I live with my husband, Joe Max Emminger, in Seattle (source here).
If you wish to know more about Julie and how to contact her, this is her official website.
A video tribute to Neftali. I know that I would not be able to fully capture Pablo Neruda’s greatness, so I simply gathered a few of my favorite poems as read by Madonna, Andy Garcia, and Glenn Close. Enjoy.
If You Forget Me, as read by Madonna
Tonight I Can Write the Saddest Lines as read by Andy Garcia
I Like for You to be Still as read by Glenn Close
Pablo Neruda, Poet of the People by Monica Brown and Illustrated by Julie Paschkis. Henry Holt and Company, New York, 2011. Book borrowed from the Community Library.