Sometimes it’s the little observations that spark the imagination and inspire readers to look anew at the world around them. Written by well-known Spanish poet Karmelo C. Iribarren and translated by Lawrence Schimel, this slim book of illustrated children’s poems is a source of wonder and enjoyment for children ages 6 and up.
Iribarren invites readers to look at the familiar from a different perspective. A stretch of sky between buildings looks like a pool of water; umbrellas take on the shape of parachutes when seen from a high-rise building; trees become green brooms that sweep the sky. Everyday objects are brought to life and given thoughts and feelings. A plastic bag wishes it could feel like a cloud, while a streetlight would rather it had been born a table lamp.
Blowing in great gusts through the collection is the wind, an invisible force that blunders through cities, sweeps through the trees, and leafs through newspapers faster than any reader. Its movement and energy provide a contrast with the quieter, more reflective moments in the work.
Each double spread features a short poem and simple black and white illustration, commissioned from UK illustrator Riya Chowdhury. Although rich in ideas and imagery, the language used is straightforward with a sprinkling of more challenging words. A ‘Bonus Bits’ section at the back includes some great tips for young poets wishing to pen their own verse, an interview with translator Lawrence Schimel, and the chance to learn a few Spanish words from the original book.
I think that children’s poetry can often be overlooked as a resource, so why not start your exploration with this collection? We are fortunate that the wind has blown it our way in English translation.
Originally published in Spanish as Versos que el viento arrastra by Ediciones El Jinete Azul, 2010.
Poems the Wind Blew in
Written by Karmelo C. Iribarren
Illustrated by Riya Chowdhury
Translated from the Spanish by Lawrence Schimel
2019, The Emma Press
Awards: Winner English PEN Award
Reviews: School Reading List
Laura Taylor is the founder of world children’s literature blog Planet Picture Book. She is a small business copywriter, NAATI-certified translator of French into English and member of AUSIT and IBBY Australia. When she is not writing, she is reading, and chasing after her two young children. She tweets regularly @plapibo and posts at www.planetpicturebook.com