Worth the Candle

Jamberry Cover Image
By Bruce Degen, Bruce Degen (Illustrator)
$7.99
ISBN: 9780694006519
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: HarperFestival - January 6th, 1995

Poetry begins in sound, not in story-which sometimes explains why some readers don't care much for poetry. Maybe they don't particularly hear as they read. Maybe they like the linear-ness and comprehensibility of a narrative as compared to the circuitousness and allusion of poetry. Whatever the reason, April-aka National Poetry Month-should not become the cruelest month for them. The poetry they don't like is far likelier to be The Waste Land than any thing that becomes a Candlepick. And, thus, we think that for the next four weeks, resistance to our next titles is futile.

Take Jamberry, which is a book that we have never seen fail with very little lap-sitters. As soon as a child knows the difference between a bear and a berry, Bruce Degen's verse becomes a sure-fire hit. The book, which unlike a lot of tongue-tickling poetry is a very easy read-aloud, opens with

One berry
Two berry
Pick me a blueberry

and steams on through illustrations as bright as a boxcar of Jell-O. The paintings show a Tom Sawyer-lookalike boy and a top-hatted bear who share a day's adventures in field and stream and amusement park. Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries are consumed. Cloudberries and rocketberries and razzamatazz berries are imagined. Jamberry is a book consumed by children so young that it seems to get forgotten easily by parents and children alike. (It's too lively to be a good bedtime story, so it doesn't play in the rotation very long.) But when we pull it off the shelf to show a customer, it's the book Most Likely to be Suddenly Remembered. Like Cookie Monster's cookies, or Homer Simpson's donuts, Jamberry can become as much a toddler's talisman as a favorite food.