CM . . . . Volume XX Number 3 . . . . September 20, 2013
History is one of those subjects that can be easily condensed into an endless list of dates, names and places. And then there's the dry, boring tone of a textbook that has the tendency to put readers to sleep. However, Robert Priest, author of Rosa Rose, brilliantly avoids these pitfalls by making history engaging.
Rosa Rose and Other Poems is a collection of 23 rhyming poems specifically written for young children. Readers will go on a walk through history, principally spanning the period between 1869-2011, that showcases a gallery of heroes and heroines including, but not limited to, Terry Fox, Muhammad Ali, Albert Einstein, Rosa Parks, Deepa Mehta and Julia Butterfly Hill. In his collection, Priest covers a range of issues from injustice to cancer to free speech with tremendous respect for both the persons and the associated movements.
He also offers a pairing of two poems for his weightier topics, such as Tiananmen Square and Elijah Harper, to fully extrapolate on the themes for his young readers. Though a majority of his poems are deeply poignant, Priest doesn't shy away from humour to lighten the tone of his collection. The addition of Joan Krygsman's line drawings cannot be overlooked either because they give a face to the historical events being discussed. They also provide the reader with the opportunity to contemplate the power both a person and an object can hold.
Rosa Rose and Other Poems is a beautiful poetry collection that needs to be on every child's bookshelf and is sure to make young readers lovers of history and poetry.
Inderjit Deogun is a communications professional in Toronto, ON.
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