A Visit to William Blake’s Inn

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NEWBERY MEDAL WINNER – 1982

A VISIT TO WILLIAM BLAKE’S INN: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers

by Nancy Willard

illustrated by Alice and Martin Provensen

Age: 4+

Interests: poetry, magic, animals

Harcourt Brace Jovanovich: 1981

45 pp.

Also by this author: Pish Posh said Hieronymous Bosch, The Tale of Paradise Lost: Based on the Poem by John Milton, The Voyage of the Ludgate Hill: Travels with Robert Louis Stevenson (illustrated by the Provensens)

Also by these illustrators: The Glorious Flight: Across the Channel with Louis Blériot, A Peaceable Kingdom: The Shaker Abecedarius, Shaker Lane, The Animal Fair, Punch in New York, The Master Swordsman and the Magic Doorway, The Provensen Book of Fairy Tales

Next: William Blake’s poetry; other surreal poems and collections: ScranimalsAlligator Pie, and Lear’s The Quangle Wangle’s Hat and The Owl and the Pussycat

The poet Nancy Willard imagines famous poet and painter William Blake as an eccentric, magical innkeeper. This collection of dreamy, surreal poems are intended to be evocative of Blake’s work, but are immensely entertaining on their own merit. I kept thinking of the Beatles, actually, especially Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds (probably due to the man in the marmalade hat).

The folk art style of the Provensens perfectly matches the period flavour, and turns this into a great treasure for any book collection. (see sample illustrations below)

Table of Contents:

William Blake’s Inn for Innocent and Experienced Travelers
Blake’s Wonderful Car Delivers Us Wonderfully Well
A Rabbit Reveals My Room
The Sun and Moon Circus Soothes the Wakeful Guests
The Man in the Marmalade Hat Arrives
The King of Cats Orders an Early Breakfast
The Wise Cow Enjoys a Cloud
Two Sunflowers Move into the Yellow Room
The Wise Cow Makes Way, Room, and Believe
Blake Leads a Walk on the Milky Way
When We Come Home, Blake Calls for Fire
The Marmalade Man Makes a Dance to Mend Us
The King of Cats Sends a Postcard to His Wife
The Tiger Asks Blake for a Bedtime Story
Blake Tells the Tiger the Tale of the Tailor
Epilogue

The book ends with “Blake’s Advice to Travelers”:

He whose face gives no light / will never become a star.

A lively and lovely introduction to a famous poet, this collection of poems should set anyone’s imagination wandering freely.

(this title available at amazon.com)

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. writingmom2013
    Dec 11, 2013 @ 10:05:35

    Interesting; I had not heard of this collection, but am intrigued to read more.

    Those illustrations are great!

    I feel that my son might really like this collection, when he’s a bit older (he’s currently 15 months).

    Thank you for posting this review!

    Reply

    • Kim
      Dec 11, 2013 @ 10:23:28

      You’re welcome, I’m glad you liked it! As I go through the Newbery Medal winners list I’m finding a lot of treasures I’d never heard of before. There is such an avalanche of new children’s material every year that the older titles tend to get lost. This is just a lovely little book – eccentric, charming, and a little mysterious.

      Reply

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All writings posted here are © Kim Thompson, unless otherwise indicated. For all artwork on this site, copyright is retained by the artist.