2006-11-01 / Book Review

Rainwalk:The World Around Us Through The Eyes Of A Child

Rainwalk and Other Poems of the Seasons, by Elizabeth G. Uhlig, Marble House Editions, New York, September 2006, 27 pages; 12.95. For children ages four through 12.

          Elizabeth Uhlig, several of whose works for children (Grandmother Mary, Anna Pavlova, Jel of the Ballet and The Whole World Is Dancing) have been reviewed in this newsp aper, notes that her goal is "to help children bring out their own creativity and ability to discover the mystery and beauty of the world around them". With Rainwalk, a quartet of poems illustrated by the author, she reaches that goal, once again creating a child's special universe that adults can enter and enjoy as well.

Each of the four poems, "Rainwalk", "Summerwalk", "Duskwalk" and "Snow Walk", has as its subject a different child, a different neighborhood, a different rhyme scheme and, as is apparent, a different time of day or season. Some of the scenes are familiar: "Summerwalk", for example, seems to have as its setting a stylized version of the Lent-Riker Homestead. Others seem to be more reminiscent of streets of Brooklyn brownstones. However diverse, they are all obviously part of the individual neighborhoods that, taken together, make up New York City.

While Uhlig has depicted clothing and hairstyles more reminiscent of the 1950s, the children who are part of the narrative action of each poem are all obviously New York City kids as well. They move through their environments with an assurance that marks them as part and parcel of New York City. Only a child born and brought up here could go for any kind of a walk in any kind of weather, any time of day, with the confidence and assurance that comes from growing up in a distinctly urban environment.

The poems themselves are deceptively simple. "Snow Walk" reverses imagery to depict a memorable image of a snowy night-"With glistening stars above me and the twinkling white below/I walk and feel the wonder of a night bewitched by snow". "Rainwalk" uses a staccato meter to help the reader feel the patter of raindrops and a smalll dog's paws on a sidewalk (-take a trottingdown the-lane walk!") and then asks the all-important question: "Will there be a rainbow?". "Summerwalk" perfectly conveys the feeling of a still summer dawn and "Duskwalk" evokes the spicy scent of a hushed autumn evening.

Everyday life contains scores of hidden gems such as the ones uncovered in the four poems of Rainwalk. Uhlig takes us by the hand and gently directs our attention to the hidden marvels of the world around us-the world that through the eyes ofrld that through the eyes of children and poets we can reach for ourselves as if for the very first time. Children will want to read this book aloud and share it with the adults in their lives. Adults would do well to listen.

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