Sunday, April 23, 2006
One of the best things about my trip to Chicago was meeting picture book author Jill Esbaum and getting an autographed copy of her book Ste-e-e-e-eamboat A-Comin’! I’m not surprised this book won the Friends of American Writers Juvenile Literary Award. The story is a vibrant poem that evokes the excitement of a riverboat landing in a sleepy Mississippi River town. The details—burly, brawny roustabouts; pickles and brass spittoons; upstate papers bringing news—paint a vivid picture of a small town in the 1800s, and the rhythm of the poem moves perfectly from slow anticipation as the riverboat approaches to the bustle and commotion of passengers and cargo disembarking to quiet settling in again as the riverboat pulls away to continue its journey. The illustrations by Adam Rex echo that rhythm, with pictures becoming larger and more energetic as the riverboat arrives, then smaller and more pastoral as the riverboat fades away.