Review: The Death of the Hat: A Brief History of Poetry in 50 Objects (2015)

death 2Paul B. Janeczko and Chris Raschka reunite for this anthology. I will begin by saying that I thoroughly enjoyed this collection of poetry. I loved the organization of the poems throughout time, beginning in the Early Middle Ages through today. Each of the 50 poems is written about an object, further uniting the poems in the collection.

The poetry caused me to reflect on life and the human experience. Because the poems spanned so many centuries, it was also interesting to read about how someone once felt about certain objects in time gone by. Poetry is often written about nature and nature is certainly a theme here.

Raschka’s watercolor illustrations are breezy and light – but also sometimes require further consideration to catch his true meaning. Astute readers will notice that the solitary wildgoose from Cui Tu’s poem in the beginning flies through many of the pages, finally reconnecting with other geese in the end papers.

As with any collection, some of the poems and the illustrations struck a chord in me. Some did not. Most of my favorites were from the more recent years. I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud by William Wordsworth, Manhole Covers by Karl Shapiro, and both of the cat poems by William Butler Yeats and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. It must be a difficult task to decide on the poems to include in an anthology, and the introduction is well worth the time to read.

For me, as a lover of the written word and admirer of poetry, this collection is a treasure. As an elementary school librarian, I am a bit more torn. The intended audience for this book is children, and here I’m afraid it may have missed its mark. I’m just not sure how much kid-appeal these poems hold. – Erin

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