1982: A Visit to William Blake’s Inn (trippin’ it poet style)

VERDICT: Toss-up

Sally’s Rating: 3/5

Nancy Willard’s A Visit to William Blake’s Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers is a collection of poems written in the styling of British poet William Blake that also doubles as a picture book with illustrations by Alice and Martin Provensen.

Definitely one of the odder books that was awarded a Newbery Medal, the short and sweet poems are framed by the premise of a boy staying at an imaginary inn that is run by William Blake himself. The inn is staffed by dragons, angels and rabbits while the many guests include the Man in the Marmalade Hat, the King of Cats and two sunflowers who want a room with a view.

The poems themselves were pretty mediocre. They didn’t particularly move me, though I had a few favorites.The Wise Cow Enjoys a Cloud tells the charming story of a cow who slept in the clouds and then buttered his morning bread with the clouds he had slept on. In Blake Leads a Walk on the Milky Way, Blake takes a rabbit, cat, tiger, rat and child on a walk through the galaxy and finds the perfect present to give each of them.

While the poems are okay, the real showstoppers are the illustrations. The pictures are quite quaint and capture that cutesy English vibe that the poems are trying to convey. In a way, they tell the story better than the poetry that accompanies them through their intricate detailings of the inn’s architecture and all its odd guest’s charming personalities. It’s definitely worth picking up the book just to browse through the illustrations.

Overall, A Visit to William Blake’s Inn was a bit of a disappointment. I don’t think its targeted age range would appreciate this book as much as younger children who read books to look at pictures or older adults who enjoy reading poetry.

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