When a book wins a Newbery Medal, I take note. When a book wins a Caldecott Medal, I take equal notice. But when a book wins both the Newbery Medal and the Caldecott Honor, I sit up straighter in its presence.
I can readily understand why A Visit to William Blake’s Inn won both medals. It has both the scholarly nature and also the strangely whimsical air that almost never come together in one book, but which the two medals seek out. It is highly imaginative, yet also grounded. It is serious, but farcical.
William Blake was a poet who lived in the late 1700s. His most famous works are undoubtedly ‘Tyger, Tyger, Burning Bright’ and ‘Little Lamb, Who Made Thee?’, the former of which is a great favorite of mine.
In A Visit to William Blake’s Inn¸ Nancy Willard has included fifteen poems written in the style and tradition of William Blake’s finest rhymes. These poems are all given to describing one aspect of the fantastical inn which William Blake runs in Ms. Willard’s imagination – an inn where fire-breathing dragons bake the bread, a rabbit shows the guests to their rooms, and angels make the cloudy, downy beds. It is an inn where imagination reigns supreme – or rather reigns second to the King of Cats, who also happens to reside there.
The illustrations are reminiscent of woodcuttings.
Conclusion. Fine for adults or children who enjoy delving into imaginative worlds.
Review © 2014 Laura Verret