Review - Toad to a Nightingale by Brad Leithauser (Drawings by Mark Leithauser)

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): The Forest of the Deer God by Joe Hisaishi [Princess Mononoke soundtrack].

My reviews are a bit different than most. As an undercover superhero (ordinary girl extraordinaire), my purpose is to try and uncover hidden gems lost from the familiar radar. Because of this, I have set up some guidelines for myself (just like the pirate code). :)

I will focus on YA and Children's literature (with very rare exceptions).
I will not review any book that is one of the top 25,000 bestselling books (based on Amazon ranks).
I will try and aim for books 100,000 or larger.
I will review recent books or books of great merit (preferably both).

Toad to a Nightingale by Brad Leithauser
Published: September 1, 2007
Publisher: David R Godine
Pages: 64
Current Amazon Rank: #2,013, 934 (this might be a new record)

Author's Website: [None]
Want it? Find it here.

The First Line:

None really. It's a book of poetry.

My Take:

Poetry, the kind that strikes just the right chord is something utterly sublime to me. I love how the words are so carefully crafted, refined and clarified to the most potent distillment. It makes me more aware of words and language than almost any other thing.

This collection I found at a local bookstore during a large sale. It was tucked in between a myriad of picture books, and even with the illustrations (which are gorgeous) done by his brother no less, I do not believe this is a book meant for children only.

It opens with a nightingale speaking with a toad in an exchange of sorts. From there it morphs into a series of poems based around various subjects, like "Plant Creatures," "Four From the Forrest Floor" and "Periodic Riddles" (which include such poems as "Hydrogen." "Oxygen," and "Neon."). Most are on a very specific focus, but change the way one such simple things, like in "A Dropped Watermelon."

Here is one example

An Alarm Clock Powered by AAA Batteries

Two slender bodies are the fuel
It feeds upon. You might suppose them dead
And buried, but their hearts are beating...
Witness the blood-bright light they shed.
It's the sheer steadiness of appetite -
Never a moment when the thing's not eating -
That chills you in the dead of night.
Time isn't just unjust but cruel.

The Final Word:

Unusual and wonderful, this book of poetry is startling, and not meant just for a young audience. But if any adult is not willing to give it a chance, more the treasure for them.


Juju at Tales of said...

Awesome review. Great find :)