Just in time for poetry month, Micha Archer won the Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award at the Kaigler Children’s Book Festival for her book Daniel Finds a Poem. The story follows a little boy as he tries to find a definition of poetry.
Daniel’s interest is peaked by a sign on the park gate advertising “Poetry in the Park – Sunday at 6 o’clock.” He wants to know what poetry is so he can be ready for next week’s event. As he goes through each day of the week, he asks a different animal and gets a different perspective from each one. It’s not a spoiler to tell you ahead of time that he comes up with his own perfect poem to share and a way to observe poems everywhere he goes. The text encourages the preschool listener and the adult who reads aloud to be on the lookout for poetry in the world around them.
I was as intrigued with the illustrations as with the text since Micha is both author and illustrator. Early on, I felt something familiar – a little boy in a neighborhood exploring nature, beautiful collage artwork, the wonder of childhood. Then I turned the page and saw Daniel in bed looking forward to a new day. I knew the connection I was trying to make.
Micha confirmed my discovery when I talked to her at the festival. Like several illustrators at the festival, she acknowledged the artist who had gone before her and served as her inspiration. Her collage and view of childhood is reminiscent of Ezra Jack Keats.
The picture of Daniel greeting the morning is a tribute to Keats with a flipped arrangement of Peter in The Snowy Day, yet it is distinctly her own. Possibilities for sharing this book with children abound – the story, the day of the week sequence, and following Daniel’s example by looking for poetry in the natural world. But I think my favorite will be sitting with a couple of preschoolers with the two books spread together looking for likenesses and differences in the works of Keats and Archer!