Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Lucille Clifton's Everett Anderson

The other day I searched online for Lucille Clifton’s poem “Blessing the Boats.” The sparse words and vivid imagery it evokes somehow lifts me when I’m a little bit blue. While online I discovered that Clifton wrote more than 16 children’s books, including a series of eight books about a character named Everett Anderson.

Like her poetry, the words of her children’s book resonate with honesty and brevity.

After my journey on the web, I felt compelled to visit my local library to find some of her children’s books. I checked out One of the Problems of Everett Anderson; Everett Anderson’s Nine Month Long; Everett Anderson’s Friend; Everett Anderson’s Year; and Everett Anderson’s 1, 2 3.

In One of the Problems of Everett Anderson, the main character is faced with a difficult dilemma. When Everett’s friend Greg comes to school with bruises, he agonizes about what to do. The story sensitively deals with the confusing issue of abuse for a young child.

Artist Ann Grifalconi, who has illustrated six other books in the Everett Anderson series, renders warm colorful images in what appears to be pastel. Expressive eyes and gestures support the pensive story.

Grifalconi’s illustration skills radiate in other books in the series also including her use of simple line drawings in Everett Anderson’s Friend, that challenges a young boy’s conception of having a girl as a buddy, and the richly detailed pencil drawings in Everett Anderson’s Nine Month Long, a story that draws upon a child’s anxiety about a new addition in the family.

Lucille Clifton is a distinguished poet, writer and educator and served as poet Laureate of Maryland. She is currently Distinguished Professor of Humanities at St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

Posted in June, 2008