Saturday, April 16, 2016

Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People by Monica Brown (Picture Book Biographies from A to Z - Letter N)

Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People
by Monica Brown, illustrated by Julie Paschkis
2011. Henry Holt & Co.


Pablo Neruda (1904-1973) was a Chilean poet who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971.


In a child-like voice and spare prose, this book narrates Neruda's childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. The text is accessible in the sense that its vocabulary is fairly easy to read, but it lacks clear transitions and quickly jumps from one point to the text. None of Neruda's poems are included. 

About the Illustrations

I enjoy Julie Paschkis's style, but as beautiful as these pictures are on a visual level, they are not especially functional. Many of them incorporate words which cannot be read coherently, as there is no indication as to the order they are intended to go in, and many of the words are in Spanish, and no translation is provided. I appreciated Paschkis trying to connect the book in some way to Neruda's poetry, since the text does not really do this, but the pictures still fall short.

Author's Note

The author's note explains Neruda's significance and provides the only poetry in the book: a quotation about Neruda by another poet. Information is given in the resources section about how to find Neruda's poetry, but the lack of poetry in a biography about a poet makes me wonder how this book ever got published.

Additional Comments

Kids who have to do book reports on poets or authors: beware. This title is unlikely to fulfill the requirements of your assignment. It might be pretty to look at, but otherwise, this book is a big disappointment.

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