Let’s take a jump to the Netherlands to discuss a poetry picture book with a little bit of buzz lately.
“I’ll Root for You” is a collection of poems by Netherlands writer Edward Van de Vendel and illustrated by German illustrator Wolf Erlbruch. It has been translated by Australian writer and translator David Colmer (currently living in Amsterdam). This is truly an international picture book that has made its way into my hands and onto some “top 10” lists!
This is an odd little collection of poems with a sports theme, though perhaps not really about sports at all (as you’ll see in the poem I picked to share today). The sports theme is used to talk about different animals, dreams of success, friendship, etc. It’s an intriguing collection to say the least.
I admit that I have a hard time with writing from the Nordic/Dutch region (despite my Norwegian heritage on my mother’s side) as they tend to be a bit bleak and a bit out of my cultural frame of reference sometimes. Yet I was still able to enjoy a few of the poems from this collection regardless. I think this is the true greatness of poetry: to cross dividing lines and still play with words in any language.
I picked the poem I want to share today for two reasons: 1) it made me stop and ask if the poem was telling the truth and do a bit of research (it was) and 2) it made me think of one of my students who is OBSESSED with frogs this year. I think this is a poem he just might love. By the way, the frogs it describes below are REAL! They truly do exist and they truly do change colors, have “vampire fangs,” etc just as the poem says. Wow! I learn something new every day.