Love / Newbery Book Review

A Visit to William Blake’s Inn

This inn belongs to William Blake
and many are the beasts he’s tamed
and many are the stars he’s named
and many those who stop and take their joyful rest with William Blake.

Two mighty dragons brew and bake
and many are the loaves they’ve burned
and many are the spits they’ve turned
and many those who stop and break
their joyful bread with William Blake.

Two patient angels wash and shake
his featherbeds, and far away
snow falls like feathers.  That’s the day
good children run outside and make
snowmen to honor William Blake.

-William Blake’s Inn for Innocent and Experienced Travelers, by Nancy Willard.

I love this book more than I can say.  As soon as I pulled it off the hold shelf at the library I knew it was going to be good.  I was drawn in from the first page, which tells the story of a young girl with measles (Nancy Willard) who asks her babysitter for a bedtime story.  The sitter quotes a poem by William Blake instead.  The fascination and appreciation for Blake’s poetry inspired Nancy to write sixteen poems about an Inn run by the man himself.  The poems seems to build off the one before and by the end I was wishing there was such a place and that I could go there for a holiday.

The illustrations are also something to be admired.  Not done by Nancy but by Alice and Martin Provensen they immediately transport me to a feeling of childhood.  It’s no wonder that it won not only the Newbery but a Caldecott honor as well.  While I hope to one day own all the Newbery winners (wait, did you just hear that?  it was my bank account letting out a long sigh) this is one I feel particularly strongly about owning.  Oddly enough, when Forrest and I took a Powells excursion Thursday night and I perused the Newbery section it was nowhere to be found.  Not in the picture books section either.  Even when I searched for it in their computer system they had no record of having it.  Say what?  Amazon here I come apparently.

My guess about why I feel so strongly about it is because it allows the reader, for just a moment, to live in a world where rabbits show you to your room, angels fluff your sheets, dragons bake your bread and the man in the marmalade hat cleans out your room.  It gives your imagination a push that lasts long after you’ve closed the book.  I need that in my life.  While working a job I don’t particularly love and wondering where my place is in life and feeling like I can’t do what I want because there’s no money in it it’s nice to be given an excursion and a chance for respite at William Blake’s Inn.

On another note, after a two-week break I finally got to go the library on Tuesday night and Joan and I had good conversation about the list of Newbery maybe’s for 2010.  After a bit she then asked, “Are you going to the mock Newbery on Saturday?” (On the inside I felt like my heart had stopped) “You don’t have to be a librarian to attend?” I asked.  “I don’t think so,” she replied  (On the inside I’m jumping up and down).  So she printed off the info sheet for me and I couldn’t wait to get home to tell Forrest, who, true to his wonderful nature, got just as excited as I did.  So, the mock Newbery was this Saturday from 10 to 4.  Librarians and non-librarians would talk about the books published in 2009 and basically discuss which one should win the Newbery for 2010 and why.  Bliss.  I was so excited and nervous all rolled into one.  So the next day I emailed the guy in charge just to make sure there was room because Joan had mentioned that she wasn’t sure if there was.  He emailed me back that same day to say it had capped out awhile ago and they only had resources for 60 people. Sigh.  It’s disappointing to be sure.  I’m not wallowing or anything but at this moment 60 people are talking about books I’ve read and feel strongly about and I really wish I was there. C’est la vie.

In more exciting news, I purchased Jacob Have I Loved and Westing Game at Powells for cheap and now I have all the books in my possession for the rest of January.  Yeah!  I also read Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream by Tanya Lee Stone and When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead.  Personally, I think that the latter has a good shot of winning and I’m secretly crossing my fingers that a non-fiction one doesn’t.

Once again I extend the offer for reading along with me this upcoming week.  On the docket is Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson (author of Bridge to Terabithia, which is also this month).

Till next time…


One thought on “A Visit to William Blake’s Inn

  1. My heart was pounding with excitement as I read about your encounter with Joan and finding out that you could attend mock Newberry. I felt my heart race as you told Forrest and then emailed the guy in charge to seal the deal. I couldn’t imagine a more perfect Saturday for you!! Then the word “capped”. :( Sigh…. So did you put your name on the docket for next years gathering?

    In the meantime… we all enjoy reading a small version of mock Newberry each Saturday as you write out your reviews. Thank you for that!!!

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