enormous SMALLNESS

A Story of E. E. Cummings

Enchanted Lion Books

(published 4.7.2015) 64 pages 

A True Tale with Cherry On Top 

A author: Matthew Burgess
      and Illustrator: Kris Di Giacomo 

C character: E. E. Cummings

O verview from the jacket flap: 

    "'There once was a boy with a big imagination who loved to play tag, climb trees, and gaze out of his window. Inspired by the world around him, he expressed his excitement in pictures and poems. Before he could even write, he played with words and said poems aloud. And when he got older, he filled page after page with poems.

This sensitive and spirited glimpse into the life of E. E. Cummings ... is a lively story starring Edward Estlin, the playful child fascinated by words, who will grow up to become one of America's most beloved poets. Some of Cummings' most wonderful poems are integrated seamlessly into the story..."

T antalizing taste: 

"When Estlin was eleven,
his favorite teacher, Miss Maria Baldwin,
noticed his wonderful way with words
and encouraged him.
From her, Estlin learned that

anything is possible,
as long as you are true to yourself
and never give up, even when the world
seems to say, stop! 

... Using a style all his own,
e. e. put lowercase letters where capitals normally go,
and his playful punctuation grabbed reader attention.

His poems were alive
        with experimentation
                    and surprise!

And because of his love for lowercase letters,
his name began to appear with two little e's (& a little c, too)."

and something more: I'm always intrigued by the author's connection to a story, and Matthew Burgess shares a wonderful story in his "author's note" (note that it's all in lower case): "In June, 2007, I was invited to lead a 'literary walk' of Greenwich Village. I had never given a tour before, so I took photographs of the buildings on the route and wrote notes on the back for reference. A few days later, a I stood on the stoop of 4 Patching Place, anxiously trying to remember snippets of E E. Cummings' life story to share with the assembled group, the front door swung open. A woman and a boy emerged, and by a stroke of luck, the woman happened to be friends with someone in our group [and she invited them inside.] 

Suddenly, the twelve of us were filing up the tiled narrow staircase andante the room where Cummings had worked for almost forty years. The windows opened to trees and birdsong, and the summer light filtered in. The room showed all the telltale signs of a young boy's bedroom, but it wasn't difficult to imagine E. E. Cummings writing and painting there...

Three years later, when my publisher, Claudia Zoe Bedrick, asked me if I would be interested in writing picture book about E. E. Cummings, I remember that day at Patching Place, and I sensed another door opening. E. E. Cummings was one of the first poets to make a strong impression on me when I was a child, and the memory of visiting his home felt like an auspicious sign."

Serendipity indeed!


Annette said...

I love a good author's note! What a great how-I-got-interested-in-this story.

Jeanne Walker Harvey said...

Yes, I agree that it's always interesting to learn what made an author choose to write a certain book.

Thanks for stopping by, Annette.