by Herrera, Juan Felipe; Castillo, Lauren (ILT)

The former U.S. Poet Laureate and the Caldecott Honor-winning creator of Nana in the City trace the author's experiences as the son of migrant farmworkers, describe the sensory experiences that enriched his imagination and reflect on his pursuits of an education and writing career.

Juan Felipe Herrera is a poet, performance artist, and activist. The son of migrant farmworkers, he was the U.S. Poet Laureate from 2015&;2017. He has published more than a dozen collections of poetry and is the author-illustrator of Jabberwalking. He lives in Fresno, California.

Lauren Castillo has illustrated many books for children, including Happy Like Soccer by Maribeth Boelts and Yard Sale by Eve Bunting. Lauren Castillo is also the author-illustrator of the Caldecott Honor&;winning book Nana in the City. She lives in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

The Poet Laureate of the U.S. from 2015 to 2017, Herrera offers up a brief autobiography in free verse, encouraging readers to consider their future. As the son of migrant workers growing up in California, sensitive young Juan enjoys sleeping outside and admiring the flowers near his country home. Though his family moves many times, he finds that words are a constant that make him happy and give him freedom to create. Overcoming hardships, such as having to walk to the nearest town for water and entering school not knowing the English language, make him a stronger person. By putting words together, he finds he's able to write stories, poems, and songs. Castillo used foam monoprint and pen to beautifully illustrate the author's early life. Backgrounds have a soft, almost unfocused look, while specific objects are clearly outlined in a dark hue. Herrera's talents of speaking, singing, playing music, and writing poetry are inspiring. This quiet tale may motivate readers to reflect on their abilities and allow their imaginations to envision the opportunities that await them. Grades K-3. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

Former Poet Laureate Herrera encourages his young readers to imagine all they might be in his new picture book. Herrera's free verse tells his own story, starting as a young boy who loves the plants and animals he finds outdoors in the California fields and is then thrust into the barren, concrete city. In the city he begins to learn to read and write, learning English and discovering a love for words and the way ink flows "like tiny rivers" across the page as he applies pen to paper. Words soon become sentences, poems, lyrics, and a means of escape. This love of the word ultimately leads him to make writing his vocation and to become the first Chicano Poet Laureate of the United States, an honor Herrera received in 2015. Through this story of hardship to success, expressed in a series of conditional statements that all begin "If I," Herrera implores his readers to "imagine what you could do." Castillo's ink and foam monoprint illustrations are a tender accompaniment to Herre ra's verse, the black lines of her illustrations flowing across the page in rhythm with the author's poetry. Together this makes for a charming read-aloud for groups or a child snuggled in a lap. A lyrical coming-of-age story in picture-book form that begs to be shared. (Picture book/memoir. 4-8) Copyright Kirkus 2018 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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