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Walt Whitman: Words for America
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Walt Whitman: Words for America

4.06  ·  Rating Details ·  190 Ratings  ·  48 Reviews
The pioneering team that brought you the Caldecott Honor-winning THE DINOSAURS OF WATERHOUSE HAWKINS focuses their remarkable skills and vision on Walt Whitman--poet, American, Civil War hero.

Did you know that poet Walt Whitman was also a Civil War nurse? Devastated by his country dividing and compelled to service by his brother's war injury, Walt nursed all soldiers-Union
Hardcover, 56 pages
Published October 1st 2004 by Scholastic Press
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Jul 25, 2009 karen rated it liked it
Shelves: mark-harmon
walt whitman is an odd choice for a children's biography, says me. i like his poetry just fine, but at the end of the day, he was a weird little nudist who traveled america writing erotic poems. to continue this series, i would like to compile the little golden book of henry miller, and a child's treasury of genet. oh, how the parents will cheer me... as an added bonus, this book has a little cutout through which you can stick your face or whatever you want to stick through there and pretend tha ...more
Lisa Vegan
Aug 27, 2010 Lisa Vegan rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Walt Whitman poetry fans; American history buffs, fans of non-fiction picture books
Recommended to Lisa by: Kathryn
This is a classy book, and it’s beautifully put together, from the cover with a cut out section and all the way through, the telling of the story and the illustrations work together beautifully.

Much of Walt Whitman's poetry is included, including complete poems from Leaves of Grass added in at the end of the book. (It makes me want to pull out my copy of that book; I suspect I’d have to add my edition to the Goodreads’ database as it’s so old. I haven’t read anything from it since my teens.)

This isn't a very inspiring biography of Walt Whitman. Being that it is for children I shouldn't find this too surprising, but after reading some of the other children non-fiction books I was expecting a little more. I'm sure Brian Selznick worked hard on the illustrations, but they seemed pretty weak. Not that his drawing style in his other books is great, but in the Cabinet of Hugo whatever the title is, and the Harry Houdini book they added something wondrous to the story, here they seemed to ...more
Aug 27, 2010 Kathryn rated it it was amazing
It took me several weeks to finally read this book. I kept wondering, could one write a picture book biography of "The Good Gray Poet" in a way that could even slightly convey the heart and soul that sings through his own poetry? Well, the team of Kerley and Selznick manage to capture a miracle within the pages of their book. I was deeply moved by this lovingly crafted biography, as much an ode to Whitman as it is to the men and women of America for whom he wrote his own poems.

The story begins,
Deming McDowell
Feb 05, 2016 Deming McDowell rated it really liked it
Shelves: wow-books
Barbara Kerley did an exceptional job at turning the story of a famous poet's life into that of a hero's. Her description of Whitman's life took readers back in time. This short biographically styled story gives young readers the opportunity to find meaning in some of Whitman's deepest poems. While reading about this time in American history students find out why Whitman wrote the poems he did, his time and important role on the sidelines of the Civil War, and who he was really speaking for thro ...more
(NS)Jennifer Reiner
This is a wonderful picture book for older readers. Walt Whitman was a selfless Civil War nurse. The illustrations are just beautiful. The pages are over-sized with an old-fashioned design. Poetry is incorporated into the pages. Walt hoped to be the voice of America one day. When the war starts, Kerley makes a large painting of soldiers in their uniforms. As the war continues, Kerley shows the relationship between Whitman and his embattled president who he would see on the streets of the capital ...more
Apr 04, 2013 Lauren rated it it was amazing
I picked this up to read with my kids for National Poetry Month, and am so glad I did. It is beautifully written and illustrated...a moving biography of one of the greatest American writers of all time, this book inspires you to celebrate our country and its people--exactly as Whitman's poetry and life experiences have for centuries. I love that it is kid-friendly, yet still something an adult can learn from...and the inclusion of Whitman's poetry throughout is a true gift. Bonus: the section at ...more
Dec 24, 2009 Luann rated it really liked it
If you don't know much about Walt Whitman, this book is a great starting point! It will also make you want to learn more - or at the very least you will want to read more of his poetry: "O Captain! my Captain!" This would be a great book for introducing Walt Whitman to older students, or as a companion book in a unit about Abraham Lincoln or the Civil War. Barbara Kerley's text and Brian Selznick's illustrations work hand-in-hand to tell the story of Whitman's life. Don't skip the author's and i ...more
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
Inspired me to want to pick up his poems and re-read them.
Apr 04, 2012 Julia rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 25-text-log
I am reading an book called Walt Whitman Words for America by by Barbrac Carley. This an five star rated book because it is the best auto-biography I ever read. This book is about a poet writer in the civil wars writing poems about the war, and visiting the hospital to help wounded soldiers. He is a true hearted person who never gave up trying to beleive in his hopes of the war ending swiftly, and that his poems helped stop the war. Also, he was just like Abraham Lincoln, and was loyal to him ev ...more
Sara Check
Nov 14, 2011 Sara Check rated it it was amazing
1.This is a biography, junior book.

2.The amazing story of Walt Whitman, a man whose poems gave a voice for the American people. Whitman was not only a poet but an amazing American who would do anything for his country.

3.A. Barbara Kerley wrote a magical biography about the legendary poet, Walt Whitman. Along with Brian Selznick’s gorgeous and genuine illustrations readers are taken back in time to understand Whitman’s life and poetic purpose. Not knowing much about Walt Whitman before reading th
Megan Pando
I am very appreciative to this book for familiarizing me with this remarkable man. I have heard Walt Whitman’s name before but that all he was to me, just a name. I did not know who he was as a person. This book is proof of the importance of literature. People live on through the words of a book and in a sense become immortalized.
Whitman was a patriotic man and a talented poet, but more importantly than that he was a very kind and compassionate man. I learned from the book that he made a great c
Dustin Roberts
Apr 05, 2012 Dustin Roberts rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biographical
Being a fan of Walt Whitman's poetry, when I stumbled upon this book I naturally couldn't resist reading it. It was difficult to believe that his poetry could be adapted in a manner suited for children's appreciation, but I must say Kerley and Selznick have done a terrific job.
The story follows the life of Whitman with segments of his poetry strategically placed in the timeline. This construction paints a vivid picture of what our country went through during the civil war. We follow Whitman's
Oct 08, 2011 Cindi rated it it was amazing
This captivatingly illustrated book grabs the reader's attention before one page is even turned. The forest green cover is titled and embellished in gold and the center is cut out to frame an illustration of Walt Whitman as a young man. Each stage of Walt's life from becoming a printer's apprentice at the age of 12 to when he wrote a loving tribute to the slain President Lincoln is captured in authentic pictures by Brian Selznick (author of The Invention of Hugo Cabret.)

The text of this story is
Leigh Isley
Jul 26, 2014 Leigh Isley rated it it was amazing
A great picture story Junior biography. A wonderful book beautifully put together with illustrations, details, and real-life adventures of Walt Whitman. This biography illustrates and tells of Walt Whitman's life from the time he was a young boy and how he loved words. In this dramatic, true story, you can travel witth him through a young America, read his poetry celebrating our nation and its people, experience his life-altering work in the Civil War, and discover that there are many ways to lo ...more
Jan 03, 2013 Tanja rated it really liked it
Shelves: chn-biography
A gem of a picture book, no surprises with an illustrator like Brian Selznick. I had never heard of the American poet Walt Whitman prior to reading this book and found him a quite interesting personality. Calling Walt Whitman a poet is surely an understatement, as you will discover when reading the book. he did and was so much more, e.g. a newspaper publisher, a printer, an office boy, a teacher, a journalist. However, more than anything else, his constant efforts to help others and make his cou ...more
The Reading Countess
Mar 29, 2010 The Reading Countess rated it it was amazing
Sibert Honor Book

What a gorgeously illustrated book for the backdrop about one of America's most beloved poets. The book begins with the title page and on the page opposite it: the words inverted as a nod to Whitmans first job as that of a typesetter apprentice at the tender age of twelve. I learned so much about this poet that I never knew in regards to his dedication to the Civil War soldiers and how some of his most famous poems, most notably "O Captain! My Captain!", came to be penned. The a
Nov 08, 2011 Barbara rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, writing, biography
Although Walt Whitman may be an unusual choice for a children's biography about a poet who wrote for adults, this is a passionate tribute to a man who loved words in every form, whether in typesetting for newspaper articles, in newspaper articles he wrote himself, in the books that he read or in the poems that he began to craft. The power of words seemed to lure him on through his travels, and what he wrote was inspired by the events of the time, including the Civil War and the assassination of ...more
Laura Schroeder
Apr 21, 2009 Laura Schroeder rated it it was amazing
I only had a chance to skim this book, but the illustrations are AMAZING. I am very into art so the fact that this book had new and innovated graphics made me very happy. The pages that i did skim helped make more sense through the pictures. From just skimming this book i learned alot about Walt Whitman, until reading this book i only knew he was a poet who lived in the woods for a number of years to prove a point to society. I had know idea that he had such a great impact on civil war. He was a ...more
Dec 16, 2012 Darlene rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Parents, grandparents plus children
Recommended to Darlene by: Cheryl in CC NV
What a beautiful book! I loved the story. It grabbed me from the very beginning as I remembered having a toy printing press as a child. Wish I could have been as prolific with mine as Walt Whitman was with his. Oh, but his was part of the real thing!

I loved how the author presented this biography. I felt closer to the reality of this great poet. The illustrations were amazing!

The reason I didn't give this five stars was one of my biggest gripes of books like this. If the information on the last
Katherine Doss
Dec 04, 2013 Katherine Doss rated it it was amazing
Shelves: libs642
Walt Whitman: Words For America tells the story of the great writer, Walt Whitman, and includes details of his life that are little known, such as his time serving as a civil war nurse. This book’s absolutely beautiful illustrations tell the stories more vividly than the words do, and that’s a feat in itself. Included throughout are works that Whitman wrote as well, which was a nice touch. I enjoyed this book much more than I thought I would enjoy it and I would highly recommend it. This could b ...more
Amy Whitmer
Dec 03, 2013 Amy Whitmer rated it really liked it
Shelves: libs642
Category: Biography – Informational
Review Source: Sibert Award Honor 2005

This beautifully illustrated biography of poet Walt Whitman gives us an insight into his childhood and life. We learn that he held his first job as a typesetter apprentice at age 12 and that he had a great respect for Civil War soldiers, who were often the subject of his work. Walt Whitman’s poems are geared more towards adults, but I think that introducing kids in middle school to his work is fine. The book has many of his
Dec 26, 2016 Chanin rated it really liked it
I think I've always had Walt Whitman and Henry David Thoreau lumped together as the same person in my brain. What a remarkable man. I love to read non-fiction because it inspires me to read more books on the subject or genre. This book did not disappoint in that arena. Now that I have Walt figured out, I need to go read 'Leaves of Grass', 'Memoranda', 'Drum-taps' and then figure out H. D. Thoreau. If every book I read leads to a handful more, I'll never finish my list!
Jessica Lauber
Jun 09, 2016 Jessica Lauber rated it it was amazing
I love mirror image of the title page! How unique! Selznick's illustrations are once again INCREDIBLE!! The partially nude illustration makes this a questionable text for the classroom. The illustrations of Lincoln and Whitman are absolutely phenomenal!

Not knowing the history of a person so well-known can be changed so quickly in a few short pages. Walt Whitman was a wonderful man. I am sorry to say it's has taken me this long to find out about his compassion and selflessness.
Donna (Jaevenstar)
May 26, 2012 Donna (Jaevenstar) rated it really liked it
"O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done.
The ship has weather'd every rack, the prize we sought is won.

The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exhulting,

While follow eyes the steady keep, the vessel grim and daring;

But O heart! heart! heart!

O the bleeding drops of red,

Where on the deck my Captain lies,

Fallen cold and dead... "
Sep 16, 2013 Linda rated it really liked it
One of the things I love most about continuing to read children's literature is the amount of knowledge I gain! This book was always the "impossible to shelf" book in my libraries and not once did I take the time to read it! What an amazing man Walt Whitman was...much more than just the poet we remember him as!
Aug 04, 2015 Earl rated it liked it
Barbara Kerley and Brian Selznick team up again for another nonfiction picture book biography, this time focusing on Walt Whitman's life as he becomes the poet of the people and a strong supporter of the troops. Includes extensive author and illustrator notes as well as a selection of poems excerpted in the story proper. Of course, Brian Selznick delivers another visual treat.
Walt Whitman: Words for America by Barbara Kerley illustrated by Brian Selznick
4 stars
An absolutely gorgeous book. The biographical and historical text is informative but secondary to the illustrations. Several of the paintings incorporate Whitman’s poetry. The author and illustrator notes at the end of the book are fascinating in themselves.

Mar 07, 2011 LeeAnn rated it liked it
This isn't a bad introduction to Walt Whitman although it really is a gentle story about the Civil War's effect on him. I like the illustrations best; the print-style is too fine, as in skinny, for a children's book. It was chosen by my local library as one of the selected books for children for the Civil War-themed Big Read.
Christa Buckler
"He surrounded himself with words...appreciating a fine performance in every cell of his heart and head"

"the genius of the United States was in the common people"

"I my soliders my veterans my hear gives you love "

"Whoever you are now I place my hand upon you that you be my poem"
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Goodreads Librari...: Replace Cover 2 30 Jul 19, 2016 06:56PM  
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Barbara Kerley was born in Washington, D.C. and has lived in many places, including Nepal and the tropical island of Guam. She has written about almost everything: 19th C iguanodons, Teddy Roosevelt, world peace, Mark Twain's donkey, and the pleasure of following your curiosity.
More about Barbara Kerley...

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