Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People

by Monica Brown (Author) Julie Paschkis (Illustrator)

Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People
Reading Level: K − 1st Grade

Once there was a little boy named Neftalí who loved wild things wildly and quiet things quietly. From the moment he could talk, he surrounded himself with words. Neftalí discovered the magic between the pages of books. When he was sixteen, he began publishing his poems as Pablo Neruda.

Pablo wrote poems about the things he loved--things made by his friends in the café, things found at the marketplace, and things he saw in nature. He wrote about the people of Chile and their stories of struggle. Because above all things and above all words, Pablo Neruda loved people.

Publishers Weekly

This gentle tribute to Chilean poet Neruda explores his formative experiences, from searching for "beetles and birds' eggs" in the forest to discovering his love for books. Paschkis incorporates Spanish and English words into her organic, stylized compositions (the opening scene features a literal river of words), while Brown lyrically chronicles Neruda's poetic subjects ("He wrote about buttons and feathers and shoes and hats. He wrote about velvet cloth the color of the sea") and highlights his devotion to the poor and suffering. Readers may not gain a real sense of Neruda's work from this collaboration, but Brown and Paschkis paint a compelling portrait of a man who saw the world as a joyful, complex, and beautiful poem waiting to be unveiled. Ages 14. (Mar.) Copyright 2010 Publishers Weekly Used with permission.

School Library Journal

K-Gr 3--This introduction to Chile's Nobel Prize-winning poet celebrates the glorious qualities of words as it describes Neruda's delight in them. On the cover, a young Neftali reaches out, and blue and green rivulets of Spanish and English swirl from his hand toward readers: "Luminescent/Sense/Nonsense/Nets/Neftali/If/Laughter/La Luz/Azul/All." As Brown provides an overview of Neruda's life from childhood and his fortuitous tutelage under Gabriela Mistral through the activism that forced him to flee from home as an adult, and Paschkis paints words on ferns, skies, roads, and banners that surround and relate to the action depicted. While the boy shares a horseback ride with a friend, the leaves on the vine overhead read: "Ayer/Eye/Ojo/Why/Hoja/Sky/Hope/Open." Other dynamic spreads relate to the poet's collections of ships in bottles and rocks or his love of opposites and the beach. The final scene depicts the titles of his poems in a variety of languages as the author explains his international acclaim. The book concludes with a brief author's note about the poet. The attributes that Brown has selected to share and her simple, but impassioned telling combine with Paschkis's vibrant, decorative style for a book high in child appeal. Pair it with Roni Schotter's The Boy Who Loved Words (Random, 2006) or, for older children who are swept up in the particular allure of Neruda's life and poetry, share Pam Munoz Ryan's The Dreamer (Scholastic, 2010).--Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library

Copyright 2011 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.
Monica Brown
John Parra is an award-winning illustrator, designer, teacher, and fine painter, whose work is avidly collected. John's books have received numerous awards, including the Pura Belpré Illustrator Honor Award for Gracias/Thanks by Pat Mora and for Green Is a Chile Pepper by Roseanne Greenfield Thong. John lives in Queens, New York, with his wife. Visit him at
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
March 20, 2011
Age Range
6 - 9 years
Orbis Pictus Award
Honor Book 2012
Americas Award for Children & Young Adult Literature
Winner 2012

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