What the Heart Knows

What the Heart Knows

Chants, Charms, and Blessings

Book - 2013
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A one-of-a-kind poetry gift book of hope, wisdom, and power from Newbery Honor-winning poet extraordinaire Joyce Sidman and Caldecott Honor-winning artist Pamela Zagarenski.

What the Heart Knows: Chants, Charms, and Blessings is a collection of poems to provide comfort, courage, and humor at difficult or daunting moments in life. It conjures forth laments, spells, invocations, chants, blessings, promises, songs, and charms. Here are pleas on how to repair a friendship, wishes to transform one’s life or to slow down time, charms to face the shame of a disapproving crowd, invocations to ask for forgiveness, to understand the mysteries of happiness, and to bravely face a dark and different world. These words help us remember or grieve; they bolster courage and guard against evil; they help us celebrate and give thanks. This elegant gift book also includes a red ribbon for readers to mark their favorite poems.

Poet extraordinaire Joyce Sidman won the Newbery Honor Medal for Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night and continues to write poetry for children that has been called "fresh," "inspiring," and "accessible" to her young audience. She is intrigued by the idea of "words of power"—chants and charms that were once believed to have real influence in everyday life. Caldecott Honor-winning Pamela Zagarenski's beautiful art captures a world of emotion and the essence of Sidman's words.

Baker & Taylor
Presents a collection of inspirational poems that offer hope, wisdom, comfort, and humor for life's challenging moments.

& Taylor

A one-of-a-kind poetry gift book of hope, wisdom and power from a Newbery Honor-winning poet and a Caldecott Honor-winning artist.

Publisher: Boston : Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, [2013]
ISBN: 9780544106161
Branch Call Number: 811.54 Si139w 2013 TEEN
Characteristics: 65 pages : color illustrations ; 25 cm
Additional Contributors: Zagarenski, Pamela


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Chapel_Hill_KrystalB Mar 16, 2017

One perk of being a librarian is serendipitously finding books with which I am unfamiliar at the exact right time. This collection of poetry for young adults is simple but lovely and I found myself thinking about the sentiments behind the chants, charms, and blessings well after reading them. Just what I needed.

JCLChrisK Sep 02, 2014

I think I like this one more for the introduction, section titles, topics, and themes than for the actual poetry, though that wasn't necessarily lacking. The poems are eminently accessible, relatable, and everyday; their approachability invites the reader to participate and imitate. Beautifully written, illustrated, and presented.

From the introduction:

We speak to send messages to the world. We chant for what we want, bless what we like, lament what we've lost. When angry, we curse; when in love, we sing.

We have always done this. Since earliest human history, we have used language to try to influence the world around us . . .

We may no longer believe that words can make crops grow, prevent illness, or keep rivers from flooding. But we still believe in the power of the words themselves. Why else would we pray, sing, or write? Finding phrases to match the emotion inside us still brings an explosive, soaring joy.

I wrote these poems for comfort, for understanding, for hope: to remind myself of things I keep learning and forgetting and learning again. They're about repairing friendship and learning again. They're about repairing friendship, slowing down time, understanding happiness, facing the worst kind of loss. They are words to speak in the face of loneliness, fear, delight, or confusion.

I hope they work for you. I hope you're inspired to write some of your own--and chant them, in your own voice.

The four sections:

Chants & Charms - to bolster courage and guard against evil
Spells & Invocations - to cause something to happen
Laments & Remembrances - to remember, regret, or grieve
Praise Songs & Blessings - to celebrate, thank, or express love

A sample poem:

Invisibility Spell

When taunting eyes chill me,
when laughter stings like sleet,

let my blush blaze hot,
melting each frozen bone.

Let heat pour from my fingers,
turning snow to puddles,

puddles to lakes,
lakes to sultry mist.

Who needs this heavy coat of shame?
Beneath it
I burn with beauty.

It is spring.
I belong to the air.
I step from my body,

BCD2013 Jun 12, 2014

NYPL Staff Pick
Lyrical poems take on the big and small moments in kids’ lives. Illuminated with whimsical drawings, Singer highlights things that make us feel and wish and curse, be they grief, hope, or gym class.

Feb 22, 2014

Although this book does indeed have some beautiful poetry, the majority of it is very dark. In fact, it is so dark that I strongly disagree with the previous reviewer. In my opinion, except for a few poems, this is NOT a book for children.

Feb 20, 2014

What a gorgeous book of poetry! Some poems could work for kids as young as 8 or 9; the collection as a whole is sophisticated enough for middle or high school. Joyce Sidman seals her stellar reputation as an Important Poet with this book (if it hadn't already been sealed).


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Feb 22, 2014

IrishMoon thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over


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