Ivy in Bloom by Vanita Oelschlager



Ivy in Bloom captures the weariness of a young girl tired of a long winter. “I stare out the window,” she says on the first spread of brown and gray, “looking for birds or flowers / or even warm showers / but I don’t see any such thing.” But then Spring comes when “March is out of breath snow melting to flowery waters and watery flowers spring rose from its wintry rest.” And Ivy’s “heart dances with daffodils.” As these words also dance across each spread, Ivy’s world erupts into a riot of color.

Ivy in Bloom introduces the poetry of Dickinson, Longfellow, Browning, Wordsworth, Frost and others. Excerpts from their writings, as seen through Ivy’s eyes, will open up poetry as a way for children to express their own feelings about the changing of seasons. This book includes longer excerpts and brief bios of each author.


* About the art:
Gorgeous artwork with a cute, fresh and original-feeling arty style (the kind of style where you can see the watercolour effect and brushstrokes). Some of the pages were more attractive than others; some felt a little wintery/ cold and not as “happy” – but were nicely done. High marks for artwork from me.

* About the story and text:
An intresting concept: the story is built by using different poet’s poems and texts, and taking a paragraph or a line from each, to compile it into a new story about a girl called Ivy who observes how gray, brown, icy, snowy winter turns to green, flowery spring.
From my adult perspective, it bugged me a little that there wasn’t a consistent style: One poem is rhyming and fun, another is non-rhyming and sombre.. and then another is mysterious and metaphorical. Would kids get the metaphors and the less obvious, less clear poetic parts? Are phrases like “April prepares her green traffic light and the world thinks go” too grown up for young children? I’m not sure. Perhaps it depends on the child.

* About what it teaches:
It introduces children to different styles of poetry. At the back you have the full poems from which the snippets were taken. It can be the grounding for a child to see what poetry is.

* Overall:
I like the outside-the-box idea of putting different poems together to build something new – I thought that was very creative of the author. It doesn’t feel to me like your classic plain and simple, fun, super-child-friendly book. It’s a little more serious and mysterious which perhaps makes it more of an acquired taste. I can see literary parents potentially liking it very much as a useful educational tool for their kids.

I was kindly provided with a copy of this book for honest reviewing purposes.


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