Climbing Shadows: Poems for Children

illus. by Cindy Derby. 44p. House of Anansi/Groundwood. Mar. 2019. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9781773060958.
K-Gr 2—Striking illustrations elevate this poetry collection for elementary school audiences. Over the course of 20 poems, Bramer covers a wide range of early childhood experiences with evocative, yet playful language, and a childlike perspective. From the comfort and security found in family members and favorite toys to the anxiety and isolation wrought by new experiences and social challenges, the poems effectively convey a complex array of emotions. Derby's impressionistic watercolor paintings vacillate between whimsical and vaguely haunting, with full-page, lush landscapes contrasting spreads with a single image in plenty of white space. The illustrations frequently outshine Bramer's relatively straightforward poems, amplifying the feelings and experiences contained in the text while adding depth and nuance.
VERDICT This accessible anthology has potential as inspiration for early elementary students learning the basics of reading and writing poetry. While not a first purchase, it's a solid choice for larger poetry collections.-Chelsea Couillard-Smith, Hennepin County Library, MN

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