The award-winning wordsmith Richard Blanco ("Made in Cuba, assembled in Spain, imported to the USA," he says) read his hopeful poem "One Today" to a crowd of one million for President Obama's second inauguration in 2013. In One Today, a picture-book ode to America, his soaring words are gloriously illustrated in jewel-toned acrylics and india ink by Captain Underpants creator and Caldecott Honor recipient Dav Pilkey (The Paperboy).
The poem begins "One sun rose on us today, kindled over our shores,/ peeking over the Smokies, greeting the faces/ of the Great Lakes, spreading a simple truth/ across the Great Plains, then charging across the Rockies." Blanco's hypnotically lyrical poem spans "one today," and that day is visually interpreted as sunrise to moonrise, and, with a little poetic license, seasonal shifts. Readers follow the meanderings of two children--one white, one black--and their black cat as they stay busy in the bustling city while their mother works at a local market. They draw with chalk on sidewalks, read books and watch boats until they rejoin their mother at the end of her shift.
Blanco celebrates universal human experiences--the light that wakes us, a morning yawn, the ground we walk on, one sky, one moon: "All of us as vital as the one light we move through...." He gracefully weaves his own childhood into the narrative as well, such as his mother's work as a grocery clerk, his father cutting sugar cane, his Spanish-speaking upbringing. This creative, moving fusion of poetry and painting is a lovely, thoughtful homage to the best parts of America. --Karin Snelson, children's & YA editor, Shelf Awareness