Thursday, July 13, 2017

This is a Poem That Heals Fish

"This is a Poem That Heals a Fish" is written by a French poet, novelist and dramatist Jean-Pierre Simeon translated into English by Enchanted Lion Books and illustrated by Olivier Tallec. 

It is a picture book but also a poetic and and philosophical tale. Arthur’s pet fish Leon appears to Arthur to be dying of boredom. He asks his savvy, artist mother what to do. She considers this carefully and answers, “Hurry, give him a poem!” then leaves for her tuba lesson. The book follows Arthur's quest as he tries to save his beloved red fish Leon's affliction of boredom by asking everyone he can find what a poem is, but each answer just seems more confusing than the next.
“A poem!? But what is a poem?” Arthur wonders and sets out to find the answers.

He searches in cabinets, under the bed and then queries many friends. He asks the bicycle shop repairman who is always in love and the baker, Mrs. Round, and Mahmoud who waters his rhododendron every morning—-because he is from a desert land. This is implied surreptitiously, but not stated and part of the joy I found in rereading this book.

All of the people Arthur asks have partial answers:
“A poem, Arthur is when you are in love and have the sky in your mouth.”
“…and it is hot like fresh bread. When you eat it, a little is always left over.”
“A poem is when you hear the heartbeat of a stone.”

After this last line. Arthur remembers his fish and worried, he rushes home. Leon is floating...but still alive. Arthur continues searching. He asks his bird (no bird brain) named Aristophanes. This sent me looking up Aristophanes. He is supposed to have said, “By words the mind is winged.”


My interest in this book was piqued when I read a review of the book from a site called Brain Pickings hosted by Maria Popova.  And I'd also like to add I was on board immediately with a book title that suggested a poem could heal a fish.  
https://www.brainpickings.org/2017/03/24/this-is-a-poem-that-heals-fish/ 
If you go to her review she has printed each page of the book so you can enjoy reading it online. 

Originally I bought the book as a birthday gift for a friend who loves and appreciates poetry  as much as I do. But when I got the book I knew I had to have my own copy. 
The book was written as an introduction for children to the world of poetry but adults can certainly appreciate this exquisite lyrical picture book. Each page seems to sing with color, wit and charm. The paintings/illustrations are every bit as important as the text and seem to have a personality of their own.  It is also one of those books that can be read more than once.  Each time you read you can find more meaning and value in the words. Since it has a mature theme children would need to be guided along to understand some of the abstract concepts. Recommend interest level ages 5-9.  
Two of my favorite pages



1 comment:

  1. What a perfect book for a lover of poetry. I like that "A poem is when words beat their wings."

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