In the Family Room: Jonah Winter (Poetry and Baseball, Pt. I)

Gertrude Jonah Winter is freaking me out with his ability to bring people of the past to life. In his picture book Gertrude is Gertrude is Gertrude is Gertrude, the repetitions and wordplay emulate Stein's writing style pretty closely (the title, for instance, is a reference to Stein's famous circular poem: Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose), giving kids a sense of what she was all about. Winter walks through a party in the Paris apartment of Stein and her longtime partner Alice B. Toklas with regularly attending luminaries Picasso, Matisse, and Hemingway.

Stein is certainly a writer-hero of mine, so I'm excited for Silas to be old enough to get into this book. I've had a few failed experiments reading aloud from How to Write or To Do: A Book About Alphabets and Birthdays (which Stein apparently considered to be a children's book), but they haven't panned out, to say the least. One "Forget grammar and think about potatoes," and he's shouting "potato" and looking for a snack. I'm thankful to Winter for giving me a more kid-accessible vehicle for foisting my Stein obsession on my son.

Of course, I'm realistic about it. I love poetry, but I know that there's a good chance that Silas will be more into, say, baseball. He already likes throwing and catching a ball as much as reading, and we live near a baseball stadium, so he'll spend at least the next few years watching excited fans parade up the alley to the games.

Sandykoufax Lucky for us that Jonah Winter is such a versatile writer. His picture book, You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax?! is such a shift in style that it's almost impossible to believe that it was written by the same person. Penned in a sort of 1950s New York working class lingo, the book tells the story of Koufax, "the greatest lefty who ever pitched in the game of baseball" and the day he threw his first no-hitter. André Carrilho's '50s-cartoon-retro illustrations are a perfect complement, and Winter throws in cool sidebars with records and quick facts for the statistically inclined.

I can't wait to see which notable figure Winter takes on next.--Heidi


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Comments (1)

I like the look of that Koufax cover a lot

Posted by: David Horiuchi | Wednesday April 8, 2009 at 11:31 AM

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