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.
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 LibraryCopyright 2011 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.