This poetic picture book is a fun ride through a very imaginary visit to William Blake’s inn where there’s a talking rabbit and a writing cat, and that “tiger, tiger burning bright” that we are all familiar with from Blake’s famous poem.
“Tiger Tiger burning bright
In the forest of the night
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?” — William Blake
William Blake is best known as a poet but was also a talented artist. He lived from 1757 to 1827. Nancy Willard loved his poetry and so she wrote poems in which he was a central figure. She built a model of an imaginary inn for her living room and added to it while writing these poems.
My experience of reading A Visit to William Blake’s Inn
I love this book! I have to admit the poems are extremely surrealistic and a bit wacky. They’re the perfect complement to the marvelous illustrations by Alice and Martin Provensen. Each page was a new and delightful discovery. This book was a Caldecott Honor Book in 1982, and won the Newbery Medal in the same year.
Would a child like it?
I don’t know if children would love this poetry book. I didn’t read it straight through though it was only 45 pages. The fifteen poems are wild… full of incongruities and ideas that don’t make a lot of sense. Nevertheless, they were fun to read and well constructed.
I think children would like the rhythm of the poetry. The book is recommended for ages 4 through 7. If they like wacky ideas that include a Wise Cow and the King of Cats, the Marmalade Man and a rabbit, they might like being read a poem each night before sleeping as something to fuel their dreams.
Is it worth buying?
I am happy I bought my paperback copy. It is a feast for the eyes and a delight to my heart. I treasure this book. I might even read some of the poems again, just for fun.