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Want more Poetry Friday? Stop by The Logonauts for a round up of poetry links from across the kidlitosphere.

One of the best parts about being a Little Free Library steward is chatting with other LFL stewards. It’s always exciting when someone new joins our communication hub, sharing photos of their freshly painted library, filled with books, ready for people to discover and borrow.

Earlier this month, a steward in Ohio shared news that caught my eye. Sylvia Call was excited to announce that her son’s first book had just published. It is a book of poems, Into the Deep, Deep Brave. What’s unique about this book is that its author, Arthur H. Call, is a three-year old with Hyperlexia.

Sylvia and I began to talk about poetry and Arthur’s book. The poems are filled with humor, but also show profound insight — Arthur is clearly a deep thinker.

I’m thrilled to have Sylvia visiting my blog today, to tell us more about Arthur and share a few samples of his poetry.

Welcome, Sylvia! Tell us the backstory of Arthur’s poetry book.

During the fall and winter of 2016, Arthur (who was almost three) had just started talking for the first time (he also started reading and spelling words that I often had to look up).  Arthur is on the autism spectrum and has Hyperlexia which gives him this beautiful gift with words and language.

[Read more about Hyperlexia at the Center for Speech and Language Disorders.]

All through the winter, he would potter about the house making up these neat little poems and reciting them out loud to me. I wrote them all down the moment he said them, and tried to punctuate them based on his pauses and stops. (Many of his poems were hastily scribbled onto the backs of envelopes or along the margins of papers I happened to be grading.)

I didn’t have a plan for his poems at the time, but every now and then I would share one of my favorites on social media. It all sort of snowballed from there, and after talking things through with a phenomenally talented illustrator named Molly McGuire, I thought that perhaps publishing a book of poetry written by a toddler was really the only sensible thing left to do.

After months of collaborating, planning, and dreaming, Arthur’s first book is finally out in the world. What a fun little adventure it’s been.


Thanks for sharing Arthur’s story, Sylvia. I remember first learning about Hyperlexia through some articles by and about author Priscilla Gilman. Here is a link to check out to learn more about Priscilla’s experience with a child with Hyperlexia. 

Are you ready for some poetry, readers?

Selections from Into the Deep, Deep Brave
by Arthur H. Call
Shared with permission

I am everything–
I am change.
Into the deep, deep brave.

***

Strum the banjo
Walking in the snow.
I’ll show you the way
Through the night.
***

Dance with me
Spinning through the air
Like dragonflies

***

The bear stood on the shore
And roared at the sea.
Free from his cage
and brave.

As a teacher of young writers, I applaud Sylvia for publishing Arthur’s poetry. Today, I shared Into the Deep, Deep Brave with my friend Matthew Winner, a school librarian and kidlit podcaster. The book — and Arthur’s words — prompted a fascinating conversation about children, their insights into the world around them, and how they use language for meaning and play.

Congratulations to Arthur!

29 responses to “Poetry Friday: Into the Deep, Deep Brave”

  1. Very young children write wonderful, clear-sighted poetry that shows we are deep thinkers from tiny tots. At 18 months, my oldest asked to play violin, and he still loves it at 15. It may have saved him. Or maybe it saved the whole family. Great post.

    • Laura Shovan says:

      Thanks, Brenda, for this connection. I agree — Arthur has the early language to express himself. Perhaps many or all young children are deep thinkers, but don’t have the words to explain.

  2. Linda Baie says:

    So interesting to hear about this, Laura. The insights & poems from Arthur show it’s a wonderful thing that happens when we listen to children.

  3. “spinning through the air like dragonflie.” Gorgeous. What a very, very special child Arthur is, and what a gift he has. Thank you for introducing him to us.

  4. Wow, just wow! This would be great fodder for kids about what makes a poem. (Previously I used the selection from Love that Dog where the character Jack argues that anything can be a poem, you just need to
    make
    short
    lines.)

  5. I’m with Katie. I just tweeted this out. Wow. Just Wow. I’ve never heard of hyperlexia before. And, it’s amazing…..I’m off to click on the link to learn more. One of the wows from this post is that THIS kid got THIS mom who is such a great parent and collaborator. Thanks so much for sharing this. I look forward to the book and to learning more.

    • Laura Shovan says:

      I agree! Also, I haven’t read Priscilla Gilman’s book about her child with hyperlexia, but it’s on my TBR. The title is The Anti-Romantic Child.

  6. Tara says:

    I am in tears. From the mouths of babes, as they say. And thank you, Sylvia, for collecting these gems.

  7. Sylvia says:

    Thank you for such kind words! Arthur is one of the most amazing people I know (and I’m not just saying that because he’s my child!) ?

    For those of you unfamiliar with Hyperlexia, I thought I’d share a video that a fellow mom made to show some amazing Hyperlexic kiddos in action.

    https://youtu.be/0JeX1CR3OiY

    This has been such an incredible journey with my little guy, and I’m eternally grateful for the support of individuals who can appreciate the wonderful (and sometimes weird) ways in which his mind works.

    Again and sincerely, thank you.

    Sylvia

  8. Have bookmarked the amazon ordering URL to do that.
    Appreciations for the enormous gift of sharing this project of wonder, which is so like you, Laura. I am happy for young Arthur that his Mother did this. I think it will have a ripple effect that could be magnificent. I loved seeing more of Molly McGuire’s delightful art. Together artist & author lift me up. More thanks.

  9. Violet N. says:

    Wow! Thank you for this interesting story and interview.

  10. Thank you for sharing Author’s story and poems. They are lovely. And it’s great to meet another LFL steward!

  11. Linda says:

    I really enjoyed reading about Arthur and his amazing poems! Thanks for sharing it with us, Laura.

  12. Absolutely fascinating (how do we teachers get to 30 years of experience without knowing more about the range of learning differences? It baffles me) and absolutely fascinating to read Arthur’s pieces. I’ve always said that 3-7yo’s are the most natural poets, and Arthur proves it again. Also, clearly I’m not doing my steward job as thoroughly as I could be! Thanks to both you and Sylvia.

  13. Tabatha says:

    I enjoyed these poems very much and found the piece by Ms. Gilman illuminating. Thanks for sharing, Laura, Sylvia, and Arthur!

  14. Thanks for sharing “Into the Deep, Deep Brave” And Aurthur with us Laura, a truly deep and amazing first book for this little guy! The art looks enchanting also. We have so much we can learn from young children, it’s a well waiting to be tapped.

  15. Laura, these are incredibly wonderful. Thank you for sharing more about this young poet and how this book came to be. I also thank you for your kind words of sympathy for me this week. Take care!

  16. What an incredible story! Bravo to Arthur and Sylvia. I’m adopting “into the deep, deep brave” as my motto! Thank you for sharing this with us, Laura!

  17. KatApel says:

    Such a beautiful story – and what a treasure of a mother. I love the transitions in the poem. The layers that peel away to that last stanza. Wonderful!

  18. Donna Smith says:

    Amazingly simple, sweet and thoughtful. Oh, to be able to focus the mind enough to see the important. How wonderful that she thought to write them down when his thoughts started to flow!
    Thanks for sharing this today!

  19. Mary Lee Hahn says:

    Just…wow. I am filled with admiration for this young poet…and his mother!

  20. Laura, I am amazed by Arthur’s ability to create poetry at such an early age. This is the one I truly enjoyed reading:
    Dance with me
    Spinning through the air
    Like dragonflies
    Since I am with my 6-week old granddaughter this past week, I have been with her on many nature walks and outings. I told her last month that she was not only growing up to be a reader but a writer too. She is already cooing at her art pictures that someone sent her. Children are fascinated by nature if we help them observe and then vocalize their thoughts, like little Arthur does.

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Laura Shovan

Laura Shovan is the author of the award-winning middle grade novel, The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary. Her second book, Takedown, is a Junior Library Guild and PJ Our Way selection. Look for A Place at the Table, co-written with Saadia Faruqi, in 2020. Laura is a poet-in-the-schools Maryland.

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