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News & Reviews

Poet W.S. Merwin and the Palm Tree Forest

He Grew from Scratch




(pub. 9.13.2022) 32 pages

Author: Carrie Fountain

Illustrator: Chris Turnham

Characters: William Stanley


" All his life, William Stanley searched for a wild place of his own. Growing up in the straightened-out city blocks of his childhood and finding some respite in summer trips to a cabin in the woods, William Stanley yearned for space, fragrant soil, tall trees, and the silence that surrounds them. In Hawaii, he learned of acres of land depleted from toxic agricultural practices, and he became determined to restore that land and create one of the most comprehensive palm gardens in the world...leaving as his legacy a wild space for everyone."

Tantalizing taste:

" He felt at home in the wilderness, where trees grew where their seeds had fallen and the noises were wild noises and birds lived the way birds had always lived, in trees and in the sky.

As he grew up, William Stanley also learned that he loved to write poems. For William Stanley, writing poetry was like visiting a wild place - a surprising place always just exactly itself, language growing wherever it pleased.

It couldn't be straightened out."

And something more: Carrie Fountain, in the Author's Note explains that "William and Paula Merwin planted nearly three thousand palm trees [in Maui], living at the center of their forest in a house that uses rainwater and solar energy....

William's long commitment to writing left the world with a great wealth of poems, and his poetry was celebrated with many awards. Over his lifetime, he won two Pulitzer Prizes and the National Book Award. He was named Poet Laureate of the United States in 2010 and traveled to Washington, DC, to meet President Obama at the White House...

In 2010, Wlliam and Paula established the Merwin Conservancy, which will protect and grow the palm forest in perpetuity."

Christo & Jeanne-Claude's Fabrics of Freedom



Abrams Books for Young Readers

(pub. 8.16.2022) 48 pages Author: Elisa Boxer

Illustrator: Susanna Chapman

Characters: Christo and Jeanne-Claude


" This biography chronicles Christo's humble childhood in Soviet-controlled Bulgaria—under a regime that suppressed individuality and creativity—to his international fame as a bold (and controversial) innovator in the art world. Christo discovered an early love of art and found a way to make a living out of his passion by wrapping bottles, cans, stacks of magazines, and even an air conditioner. When he met his wife, Jeanne-Claude, they moved to New York City as undocumented immigrants and became equal partners in both life and work—he, the artist, and she, the dealmaker.

Together, Christo and Jeanne-Claude made elaborate, visually stunning installations that transformed public spaces around the world, all free to the public. Christo never explained why he felt compelled to wrap things in fabric—rather, his work celebrated individual interpretation and the simple joy of seeing something familiar in a new way. And though each work was temporary, their awe-inspiring designs, uniting nature with the manmade, stayed with viewers long afterward. Covered in Color inspires readers to appreciate the beauty around us, however fleeting, and to push the boundaries of 'possible.'"

Tantalizing taste:

" For four weeks,

millions of visitors streamed into Central Park

to gaze up at the orange flags forming The Gates.

For twenty-three miles,

one million square feet of fabric

hung from more than five thousand tons of steel.

When the wind and the light were just right,

the cloth panels would touch together,

creating an orange ceiling of sunshine.

With his wild, wide-open creations,

and with Jeanne-Claude's help,

Christo freed himself

from the regressive governments

and their rigid rules

in the lands he had left behind as a young man."

And something more: Matthew Burgess, in the Author's Note, explains that "Christo and Jeanne-Claude never accepted donations or sponsors. Their public art was funded entirely thorough the sale of Christo's smaller-scale work. And while that work is still housed in museums across the world, Christo and Jeanne-Claude always emphasized that their large-scale public art was, in fact, designed to end. Which is ironic, of course, because such wild, wondrous, temporary works stay forever in the hearts and minds of all who see them."

The Story of Senator

Tammy Duckworth



Candlewick Press

(pub. 9.27.2022) 48 pages

Author: Christina Soontornvat

Illustrator: Dow Phumiruk

Characters: Tammy Duckworth


" Senator Tammy Duckworth has logged a long list of 'firsts' during her tenure as the first Thai American woman elected to Congress, including being the first woman with a disability to serve in the House and Senate. But while she dreamed of serving her country from a young age, Tammy’s path was not without its challenges.

In this dramatic account, award-winning creators Christina Soontornvat and Dow Phumiruk chronicle Tammy’s journey. From her childhood fight to keep her family from homelessness, to her service in the US Army, to her recovery from grievous injuries sustained in the line of duty, Tammy never lost her determination to keep going against staggering odds."

Tantalizing taste:

" The doctors fit Tammy with prosthetic legs. Her right leg was gone all the way to the hip, and controlling her new prosthetic was like balancing on the end of a broomstick.

Each day was a battle against gravity.

Inch by inch, falling, getting up, and falling again.

And again.

Get back up.

Keep fighting."

And something more: The last page of the book includes this quote by Tammy Duckworth:

"That day, I lost both of my legs, but I was given a second chance at life. It's a feeling that has helped to drive me in my second chance at service – no one should be left behind, and every American deserves another chance."

Where to find Jeanne Walker Harvey books

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