On a sweltering summer day in Brooklyn, the local firemen spray a group of bored city kids with cool water from their hoses. In the water-drenched moments that follow, the children make the most of this unexpected treat. Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s poem comes alive with charming and exuberant woodcuts by David Frampton, creating an adventure that readers of all ages will enjoy.
From School Library Journal:
PreSchool-Grade 3–Frampton’s exuberant pictures match well with an equally vivacious poem. A few introductory pages set the scene, showing a bit of what life was like in New York City long ago, including such novelties as doctors making house calls and children lying on the floor listening to the radio. Then, a short poem by the beat icon Lawrence Ferlinghetti appears, an account of that summer in Brooklyn/when they closed off the street/one hot day/and the/FIREMEN/turned on their hoses…. A joyous gathering then takes place, with kids running out and practically flying into the air on the cold streams of water. Or is the narrator’s memory helped along by a healthy imagination? How many youngsters were really there? Did it just seem like a big party, or was it really just the one boy and his friend Molly sailing paper boats in the water that’s spilled into the gutter? Frampton’s signature woodcuts are wonderful, balancing cool and warm colors, and also managing to look both blocky and fluid at the same time. An artistic tribute by an obvious fan of the poet.
In his poem “Fortune,” Lawrence Ferlinghetti recalls a hot summer day in Brooklyn when the fire department closed off the street and turned on the hoses for the neighborhood children. With the others, young Lawrence and his friend Molly frolicked in the cool water until the firefighters returned to their pinochle game. A brief opening introduces Ferlinghetti and the setting, but the poem is the centerpiece, with an appended page adding biographical information. Frampton’s graceful woodcuts exude the excitement and joy of the moment. The swirling brightness of the water contrasts sharply with the brown, gold, and sienna shades of the neighborhood. The illustrations take some artistic liberties with Ferlinghetti’s words, as only the narrator appears to play in his birthday suit. Still, this is a sweet evocation of a time and place and a reminder that simple pleasures and routine days can also be the subjects of poetry.