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Esbensen, Barbara Juster
Illustrated by Eric Beddows Toronto, Douglas & McIntyre, 1992. 48pp, cloth, $14.95, ISBN 1-55054-211-7. CIP

Kindergarten to Grade 6/Ages 5 to 11

Reviewed by Edith Strocen

Volume 20 Number 4
1992 September

This book, subtitled Poems of Discovery, is an attractive book of poetry. Each of the poems is about a discovery of some sort. The poems are about ordinary and everyday things: rainbows, pencils, time, doors, birds and much more. Although the poems vary in length, most are short. Two verses seems to be the average length.

The book is an excellent example of carefully crafted free verse. Instead of punctuation, there are pauses indicated by spaces, followed by a capital letter. Lines are organized in sentence fragments and thoughts. The pleasing rhythm and swing in the poetry make it very appealing. Humour is apparent in both the poems and accompanying paintings. Illustrations by Eric Beddows are colourful, attractive and imaginative. The "pencil" poem is accompanied by a jar of pencils festooned with castle, elephant and fantasy bird. The poem entitled "Time" is illustrated with timepieces ancient and modern. The Storm Cat lies in a puddle of water, holding a thunder bolt in her paws.

Physically, Who Shrank My Grandmother's House? is a comfortable 20 x 24 cm, well bound, with an eye-catching dust jacket. Educationally, it could be used as curriculum support material for many grade levels, but its main use would probably be in the early and middle years. Both poet and illustrator are well known for previous accomplishments. Esbensen has written several books of poetry, one of which was the award-winning Cold Stars and Fireflies: Poems of the Four Seasons (New York, Crowell, 1984). Eric Beddows has won several awards for illustration. He illustrated Tim Wynne-Jones' famous Zoom books, Night Cars by Teddy Jam (Ground wood/Douglas & McIntyre, 1988) and Paul Fleischman's Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices (New York, Harper & Row, 1988).


Edith Strocen is a librarian at Greenway School in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

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