Friday, July 15, 2022


Howdy, Campers, and Happy Poetry Friday! (My poem and the link to PF are below)

TeachingAuthors is officially back from our 🌞Summer Break🌞, and I'm kicking off a round we're calling One Book I Learned From Over the Past Year.  

I've changed the prompt slightly for today's post to: One Book From the Past Year That Changed Me.

So many books, so many ways to respond to this prompt!  But lemme tell you, the book that BLEW. MY. MIND this year (thanks to my beloved book club) is the collaboration between author Jason Reynolds and illustrator Jason Griffin, AIN'T BURNED ALL THE BRIGHT (Simon & Schuster)

Let's start with this two minute segment of a Washington Post video interview, in which Jason Reynolds tells us that his initial manuscript was three sentences long. 

So you're thinkin' picture book, right?  

Well. Kinda. It did win the Boston Globe/Horn Book Award in the PICTURE BOOK category. that fair to the picture books?  

Kirkus calls it ILLUSTRATED POETRY.  For 12-18 year olds. (Unfortunately the Boston Globe/Horn Book Awards don't have a poetry category ~ for shame!)

How to describe this book? Let's start with its physicality. 

It's 384 pages: the size of a fat YA. Each page is shinier and thicker than you'd expect. The cover alone is hefty. All I'm sayin' is don't put this in your kid's backpack--it's a frickin' brick of a book. 

What about the content?

It's poetry. It's story. It's despair. It's hope. It's family. It's wild and wonderful illustrations that sometimes make no sense and sometimes make the whole thing explode.

It's S-P-A-C-E to absorb a poem with double page spreads that sometimes are just black. 

It climbs to a crescendo page by page. 

It's metaphor, it's simile: 
  • "my sister talks to her homegirl through the screen of her phone like it's the screen of the front door," 
  • the father tries "to keep the cough from coming through/like trying to mute the blues trumpet in his throat," 
  • "worry is worn like a knit sweater/ in summer/ and can't nobody breathe/ in a knit sweater in summer/ a turtleneck wrapped around/my whole family/our necks caught/in a tunnel/of too much/going on"
This book 

And, Honey, I ain't the only one. 

School Library Journal: ⭐starred review. 
Kirkus: ⭐starred review.
Booklist: ⭐starred review.
Publishers Weekly: ⭐starred review.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books: ⭐starred review.
Horn Book: ⭐starred review.
Shelf Awareness: ⭐starred review.
Bookpage: ⭐starred review.

BOOKPAGE: "Dynamic and visceral, Ain’t Burned All the Bright artistically portrays the claustrophobia of the summer of 2020 from the perspective of a young boy."

KIRKUS: "Artful, cathartic, and most needed." 

SLJ: "For everyone who has felt the weight of grief and fear or the comfort of love and family in the last two years, this is a must read."

Jason Reynolds says, “It isn’t about the art illustrating the language, it’s more so about the language and the art being in conversation with one another.” 
Jason Reynolds and Jason Griffin
photo credit: Dayo Kosoko

Before my book club meets, I will sometimes put post-its on one or two pages I want to discuss.

And then there's this:

Want more? Take a deep dive into a ton of resources on S&S's site. That's the end of my review...

...which takes us back to the initial question. 

Answer: I am taking more chances when I writeF'rinstance:


by April Halprin Wayland

It said,

Malia, Min, Morgan, Manosh, Whoever:





Like a flame but not a flame because the flame’s

already that hot.

Like lightning but not lightning because lightning’s

already claimed that shine in the sky.

Like your step-mom’s burst of laughter but not her burst because


well, by now you know why.


Rip across a page!

Or settle down in softness.

Listen, sing, speak up, don’t speak up,

cut through the cloud or

ride it


because, Babe,

the you 

inside you

is dyin’ to shout. 

It's not too late.


the gate.




poem (c)2022 April Halprin Wayland, who controls all rights.

And finally, I'll send you off with the one minute book trailer of AIN'T BURNED ALL THE BRIGHT.

Thanks for being here, and thanks for being you.

And thank you, Elizabeth, of UNEXPECTED INTERSECTIONS for hosting today!

posted with affection by April Halprin Wayland with occasional snores from nearly-13-year-old Eli, who, after a full day playing with younger being Eli.


Elisabeth said...

April - thank you for this review! I'm a HUGE fan of Jason Reynolds and I can't wait to get my hands on this one. Have you heard him read the audiobook of his book "For Everyone"? A *must listen* for anyone who is a creator. I listen to it 1-2 times a year. Hearing him read his own work is just the best ...

Thanks for sharing this today!


Linda Mitchell said...

Sold. Off to Amazon. I saw this book advertised during the last school year and just couldn't get around to making sure I had a copy. That's over now! Thank you so much for the mind blowing description. Some books do that...Jason Reynolds is an author that can write them. I don't know Jason Griffiths yet...but I'm about to! Thanks again.

Carmela Martino said...

April, I'm glad you made the post theme your own. Wow! What a book! I can't believe I hadn't heard of it before this. Thanks so much for sharing it.

Robyn Hood Black said...

Wow, April - what a shout-out. I guess I've been under a rock this year and didn't know about this book. Enjoyed the trailer link, AND - I watched the GMA interview from January which popped up right after it. Such great stuff. Looking forward to tracking this down to experience in person. Hugs to you (& Eli)!

mbhmaine said...

What an amazing book recommendation! I scooted over to order it before even commenting! Your poem is pretty dang awesome too! Thanks for a fabulous post!

Linda B said...

It is fabulous, I agree, so much that I've read it more than once, April, seeing "new" or my response is "new" each time. You should share your own "bright" poem with Jason & Jason!

Mary Lee said...

Clearly, I need to go back and read this book again. I was impressed, but not changed. I can see its impact on your writing. Good onya! You're going to have a heckuva book club discussion!!!

Marcie Flinchum Atkins said...

Gosh, I also loved this book! It's unbelievable! Groundbreaking in form.

Ruth said...

This book sounds amazing! Thanks for your review!

April Halprin Wayland said...

Elisabeth ~ thanks for this recommendation. I just checked it out from my library app!

April Halprin Wayland said...

I'd love to hear your reaction, Linda!

April Halprin Wayland said...

Of course, now I'm getting nervous that I've oversold it. But it really has blown me away!

April Halprin Wayland said...

Hugs right back at you, Robyn ~ I'd love to hear what you think about it!

April Halprin Wayland said...

Thanks, mbhmaine. Watch out ~ it's heavy!

April Halprin Wayland said...

Thanks for that suggestion, linda. Maybe I'll send them the link to my review.

April Halprin Wayland said...

Thanks ~ we did have one heck of that book group discussion, Mary Lee!

April Halprin Wayland said...

I'm glad you've read it, Marcie. Pretty inspiring, right?

April Halprin Wayland said...

... and I swear I hadn't had too much coffee when I wrote the review, Ruth!

Bridget Magee said...

Just. Put. This. Book. On. Hold!
Thank you, April, for this enticing preview/teaser of Ain't Burned All the Bright - it worked.
Your poem worked...and then some. You do you so well.
From my 13 y/o Smidgey to your Eli: woof*
*I hear ya! snore...

Carol Varsalona said...

April, your post is full of verve, the kind that Jason brings to the page. Thank you for sharing this review with us. I have not kept up with Jason's new writings since I met him years ago when he was a new author on the horizon. Your poem is amazing. Thanks for sharing all the brilliance you found.

April Halprin Wayland said...

They've cut a new path for us, right, Marcie?

April Halprin Wayland said...

Glad to be of service, Ruth 😊

April Halprin Wayland said...

I hope you're as inspired by it as I am. Also, Smidgey--what a fabulous name!

April Halprin Wayland said...

Carol ~ I'm thrilled by the word Verve. I'd frame it if I could 💕