Book of the Week: A River of Words

March 4, 2013

A River of Words by Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet

By Carter.

Have you heard of the American poet William Carlos Williams? Truly, I hadn’t until I read this book, A River of Words – a masterpiece by author Jen Bryant and illustrator Melissa Sweet. And inside, I found a linguistic kindred and a fascinating story about a man who was both a poet and a pediatrician. Melissa Sweet’s Caldecott Honor-winning illustrations are spectacular collages made up of found book covers and their endpapers. It’s a gorgeous work celebrating the written word, created by those same bound treasures. Stunning, right?

P.S. — Melissa Sweet is my absolute favorite illustrator, and it took all the restraint in the world to not show you every single page! There’s one at the end that will make you gasp and pause and thank your stars that you are seeing such a breathtaking picture!

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Rebecca Alexis March 4, 2013 at 9:43 am

I love William Carlos Williams. He has a way with words. I have to buy this for the house AND the boys’ library at school. pure loveliness. xo


2 lilcg March 4, 2013 at 9:59 am

he has always been one of my favorites–I’ll have to track this book down.


3 Shannon { A Mom's Year } March 4, 2013 at 10:42 am

William Carlos Williams’ poems are a staple for English majors. That red wheelbarrow! This book looks wonderful…I will definitely check it out.


4 Kate Frishman March 4, 2013 at 12:09 pm

This book looks fabulous! I haven’t thought of William Carlos Williams in years.


5 megwrites March 4, 2013 at 9:14 pm

Wow, I’m definitely checking this out. I love Melissa Sweet’s illustrations. Her book Balloons Over Broadway is one of my all-time favorite picture books.


6 Carter Higgins March 6, 2013 at 12:30 pm

Mine too! She has some new ones out this year which I’m already in line for.


7 Jennifer March 5, 2013 at 7:00 am

Great book feature. This is one of my favorite children’s books! I love the artwork, too. Have you read The Boy Who Drew Birds: A Story of John James Audubon, by Jacqueline Davies? It’s inspiring, too.


8 mandi@herbanhomestead March 5, 2013 at 2:28 pm

William Carlos Williams is one of my favorites… you know- the one about the plums? Gets me every time. This book must come into my home!


9 jweed March 6, 2013 at 12:24 pm

Funny, I just looked up a couple of William Carlos Williams’ poems this week. one of my favorites from my college English studies. I also wanted to let you know that Mac Barnett (Extra Yarn) just visited my kids’ elementary school. He is absolutely charming, hilarious, and of course, super talented. His latest book is called Chloe and the Lion. We also like Guess Again.


10 Carter Higgins March 6, 2013 at 12:31 pm

I adore Mac Barnett! Hearing him read Extra Yarn at a release party was magical. And he’s just so stinking adorable, too!


11 Erin March 8, 2013 at 5:05 pm

Oh, I can’t believe this! I am inescapably enamored with WCW’s Plum poem…it’s been around the block several times, but there’s no poem like that for effect. I think we discussed it in every poetry class I took…and that’s a lot of classes. That there is a children’s book about WCW! I’ll be buying. Thanks for the tip!


12 jennifer March 8, 2013 at 8:31 pm

This is a favorite of mine, too. I adore WCW and Melissa Sweet is also a favorite illustrator of mine. Jen Bryant has such a gift for taking snippets from life, turning them into biographies and making them accessible to children. Thanks for highlighting such a great book.


13 Mary March 9, 2013 at 4:51 pm

This is a great book. I’ve enjoyed reading it with my girls. The illustrations are fantastic. If you like this book then you may also like This is Just to Say: Poems of Apology and Forgiveness by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Pamela Zagarensk,i which was inspired by the William Carlos Williams poem plum poem This is Just to Say.


14 Jacquelyn Moses March 12, 2013 at 10:35 pm

I just picked this book up on Friday after finishing a poetry unit with my students. Love it!


15 Melissa Sweet March 27, 2013 at 12:33 pm

Thank you for posting about A River of Words!
William Carlos Williams is such an inspiration. This book was a turning point for me artistically.
I wanted to share two other titles inspired by WCWilliams: LOVE THAT DOG by Sharon Creech and THIS IS JUST TO SAY: Poems of Apology and Forgiveness by Joyce Sidman. These three books make a fun trio.
Thank you again for gracing our book on your lovely blog.


16 Carter Higgins March 28, 2013 at 2:37 pm

I didn’t realize that about LOVE THAT DOG! I love that book. Thrilled that you stopped by, Melissa!


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