Book of Questions: Libro de Las Preguntas (Bilingual English/Spanish)

by Pablo Neruda (Author) Paloma Valdivia (Illustrator)

Book of Questions: Libro de Las Preguntas (Bilingual English/Spanish)
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

Where is the center of the sea? Why do the waves never break there? A book containing unanswerable, fantastical questions, inviting us to be curious, while simultaneously embracing what we cannot know.

This bilingual Spanish-English edition is the first illustrated selection of questions, 70 in all, from Pablo Neruda's original poem (320 questions) The Book of Questions. Holding the wonder and mystery of childhood and the experience and knowing that come with growing up, these questions are by turns lyrical, strange, surreal, spiritual, historical and political. They foreground the natural world, and their curiosity transcends all logic; and because they are paradoxes and riddles that embrace the limits of our ability to know, they engage with human freedom in the deepest way, removing the burden and constraint that somehow, we are meant to have answers to every question. Gorgeously, cosmically illustrated by Paloma Valdivia, here Neruda's questions, already visual in themselves, gain a double visuality that makes them even more palpable and resonant. So clearly rooted in Chilean landscapes as they are, the questions are revealed as a communion with nature and its mysteries.

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Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review

Exquisite endpapers pay tribute to the universe contained within: “Where did the full moon forget / her flour-dusted nightgown?” A gorgeous work that stretches the imagination and delights the senses. 

Copyright 2022 Kirkus Reviews, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

Starred Review

K-Gr 4--Blues and reds and yellows weave in and out of words trailing one after another, poking and prodding the universe for answers to millennia-old questions: "Why do trees hide/ the splendor of their roots?" "Does the earth chirp like a cricket/ in the symphony of the skies?" Sixty of the original 316 questions penned by the inimitable Chilean poet Pablo Neruda perch on vibrant landscapes solo, in pairs, or in trilling triplets. Each rumination is compelling in its whimsy, yet profound in its simplicity. Just as a wish cast onto the heavens returns with a treasure, so too do the thoughts of the poet. "Where does the rainbow end, / in your soul or on the horizon?" The answers, like the questions, dwell in infinity. Both the original Spanish and Paulson's English translation mirror the poignancy echoing from one tongue to the next. Her translations sustain the lyricism of Neruda's dreamscapes.Valdivia's stylized illustrations are striking and a perfect counterpoint to this wondrous collection of ethereal literary images. Both a translator and illustrator's note are included, but an author's biography is mystifyingly absent. VERDICT A lovely exploration of diversity, language, and culture, and a splendid introduction to Neruda's works for the very young.--Mary Margaret Mercado, Pima Cty. P. L., Tucson, AZ

Copyright 2021 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

"For those who love contemplative exercises, creative thinking prompts, or opportunities to revel in the universe’s surprises, this book will be a delight. A dreamlike, artistic celebration of life and all its unique mysteries, fit for readers of any age." — Booklist

Pablo Neruda
Pablo Neruda (Parral, Chile, 1904 - Santiago de Chile, Chile, 1973), whose real name was Neftalí Reyes Basoalto, is undoubtedly one of the pinnacles of world poetry of the last century. Famous from a very young age, he lived in Santiago from 1920 to 1927, years in which he wrote, among others, the collection of poems "Twenty love poems and a Song of Despair," which has perhaps gained widest popularity of all his work and marks the moment when he first achieves his full powers as a Spanish-language poet. Neruda traveled extensively and and served as Chile's ambassador to several countries, including Burma, France, and Argentina. He was a prominent political activist, member of the Communist Party, and a militant intellectual. Endowed with incomparable verbal power, he also founded a revolutionary conception of poetry. His literary career is one of the main expressive adventures of the lyric in the Spanish language. In awarding him the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971, the Swedish Academy described him as a poet "who brings to life the destinies and dreams of an entire continent." Neruda was also awarded the International

Peace Prize.

Born in Chile in 1978, Paloma Valdivia studied design at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile and studied Creative Illustration at the Eina School of Art and Design in Barcelona, Spain. Her main passion is illustrated books for children. Her book have been translated into 12 languages. As a teacher, she directs the degree program in "Illustration and Autobiographical Narrative" at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. She lives in Santiago with her family.

Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
April 20, 2022

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