Alice is 15, with hair as red as fire and skin as pale as bone. Something inside Alice is broken: she remembers words but struggles to speak them. Still, Alice knows words are for sharing, so she pins them to posters in tucked-away places: railway waiting rooms, fish-and-chip shops, quiet corners. Manny is 16, with a scar from shoulder to elbow. Something inside Manny is broken: he was once a child soldier, forced to do terrible, violent things. But in a new land with new people who will care for him, he spends time exploring on foot. And in his pocket, he carries a poem he scooped up. And he knows the words by heart. When Manny and Alice meet, their relationship brings the beginning of love and healing.
Curly-haired Daisy likes picking lemons on sunny days, playing kickball and making long dandelion chains. But more than any of these things, she loves words and even compiles lists of her favorites in a bright green notebook covered with purple polka dots. When Daisy’s beloved teacher, Miss Goldner, becomes engaged and must move to another town, Daisy decides to give her the ultimate gift: the perfect word. But with so many good words to choose from, finding just the right one isn’t easy.
Once there was a little boy named Neftalí who loved wild things wildly and quiet things quietly. From the moment he could talk, he surrounded himself with words. Neftalí discovered the magic between the pages of books. When he was sixteen, he began publishing his poems as Pablo Neruda. Pablo wrote poems about the things he loved–things made by his friends in the café, things found at the marketplace, and things he saw in nature. He wrote about the people of Chile and their stories of struggle. Because above all things and above all words, Pablo Neruda loved people.
Pablo Neruda grew up in the rough and wild frontier town of Temuco, Chile. His father was a railroad man and not inclined to draw out the introspective boy. However, his stepmother, descended from the Mapuche people, was gentle and nurturing and told him stories of Chile’s native people. But in her husband’s presence, she was as silent as Pablo. So the child found refuge in nature and in books. And secretly he wrote down his thoughts. With the encouragement of Gabriela Mistral, an award-winning poet, teacher, and friend, Neruda’s writing grew resonant and powerful. At age sixteen he left Temuco for the university in Santiago and went on to become the “people’s poet” and to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. Blending her telling of Neruda’s childhood with excerpts from his own poetry and prose, Ms. Ray captures the people and places that inspired him in her rich watercolor illustrations.