The Well Read Review: When Green Becomes Tomatoes
Julie Fogliano (Author), Julie Morstad (Illustrator)
A Neal Porter Book/Roaring Brook Press
If I am being honest, I often wonder if I even like poetry. I took several poetry courses in college. I subscribe to the Poetry Foundation's Poetry magazine. I even write poetry. But I often find myself lost in the meter, the non-meter, the superfluous words, the lack of words, the form, the lack of form, and so on and so forth. And, if I am being really honest, a too-high percentage of the time I find myself wondering how a particular piece ended up published.
But when I read the poetry in When Green Becomes Tomatoes, I consistently felt myself thinking about Julie Fogliano's ability to say such beautiful things in so few words, wishing I had been able to write something so beautiful, so eloquent, and finding myself inspired to write more poetry. While these are poems intended for children, they are in no way unsophisticated. This is what poetry should be, and I am delighted that these poems will be some of my daughter's first exposure to poetry.
The book is divided into seasons, with each poem titled by a simple date. The first time we read it, I told my daughter to pick a season. I planned to just read one season, and leave the others for the next time we read (we had a stack of 4 other books to read, as well). She picked Spring (no big surprise, for my garden loving daughter). We read, and read, and read...until I realized we had read Spring, Summer and most of Fall. We got so caught up in the words, so immersed in the seasons, that the end of the season on the page didn't bring about a natural ending point. The end of the season just swept us right into the next season, subtly, with a quiet nod. Just like in real life.
A few of our favorites:
"If you could take a bite / out of the middle of this morning / it would be sweet / and dripping / like peaches" (excerpt from "august 30")
"and even the birds / and all their singing / sounded brokenhearted / inside of all that gray" (excerpt from "april 3")
"a star is someone else's sun / more flicker glow than blinding / a speck of light too far for bright / and too small to make a morning" ("september 10")
Thank you, Julie Fogliano. Hat's off to you.
Have you read When Green Becomes Tomatoes? Which poem is your favorite? And since I am feeling inspired, don't forget the 3 Word Challenge: send me any three (clean) words, and I'll write you a poem or short story!