Speak to Me
(And I Will Listen between the Lines)
Publication Date: August 2004
Six voices from an inner-city classroom
In a series of candid free-form poems, Karen English presents the thoughts of six third-grade children in one day and one classroom at an inner-city public school. Malcolm is the central observer, but also a dreamer. Rica has turned eight today, and her real father will be picking her up later. Brianna is upset because Rica has given over "best friend" status to Neecy. There's Lamont, who aspires to be teacher's pet, and Tyrell, a kid bound for trouble from the moment he arrives.
Inspired by her own experience as an elementary school teacher, Ms. English captures voices that reflect a range of emotion and interest children will easily identify with, and Amy June Bates's watercolors breathe pictorial life into the characters.
Karen English is the author of many books for children, including the novel Francie, which was a Coretta Scott King Honor Book. She lives in Richmond, California.
Amy June Bates has illustrated more than twenty books. She lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
"English employs the simplest of language in perfect evocation of the children's thoughts, confusions, small hopes, and large dreams...[Bates] enhances each poem with a beautifully powerful illustration, capturing every mood, every feeling...Just wonderful." Starred, Kirkus Reviews
"English's rich descriptions and insights bring readers into the world of six inner-city third-grade students . . . Teachers could easily use the book to discuss voice and perspective. With its uncluttered and inviting design, this title will have strong appeal." --Starred, School Library Journal
"The poems are written in a colloquial voice that will speak directly to many kids, and Bates' warm, realistic watercolors...create strong character portraits to match the poems' voices. Teachers will want to share this with students to show how everyday language and familiar experiences can become poetry." -- Booklist