“All Our Wild Wonder” is a small book, but the brilliant tangerine cover surrounds the rectangle containing the title and an illustration of a hand holding a dandelion that is releasing its seeds into the world. It’s a small package containing a powerful poem.
At the center of the poem is Mrs. Ribeiro, “an Indian woman the size of a nightlight,” who glided through the school so effortlessly that children thought she floated. This diminutive principal was so devoted to the students at her school that she would leave meetings whenever a child needed her — even just to read to, or to show a gold star, or to see a finished project.
She delighted the children and gave them the respect of treating them “like we were scholars. Artists. Scientists. Athletes. Musicians.” She gave the students a world of wonder, a world in which they felt free to ask questions and follow their dreams. She did the unexpected simply for the purpose of bringing joy to those around her.
And while the words may have been written as a tribute to her principal, they are also inspiring words that students take to heart. I read this poem to three 4th grade classes studying poems. They spontaneously burst into applause when I finished reading the poem and showing them the illustrations.
I asked what makes the book a poem, and they had many responses. “It’s filled with metaphors and similes,” they told me. “It made me feel,” another student responded. They loved the visions it gave them about being athletes, musicians, scholars, and scientists. They loved thinking about someone who wanted children to imagine and love learning. One student commented, “When she wrote ‘it took every color to draw her,’ that told me she had a bright and colorful personality and was unique.”
They loved realizing that a poem doesn’t have to have rhyme or meter to be a poem.
The simple black and white line illustrations are beautifully created and filled with movement and ideas. They complement the simplicity of the words and create an additional way for children to imagine what is happening in the poem.
This small, brightly colored book is a perfect gift for a teacher or mentor. It’s also a perfect book for a parent or anyone who works with children. It’s lovely.
Special thanks to the students of Mrs. Baskin, Mrs. Caro-Jacks, and Mrs. Schultz for listening and sharing their thoughts and loving this poem.
Please note: This review is based on the final, hardcover book provided by Hachette Books, the publisher, for review purposes.