Carl Sandburg: Adventures of a Poet
Author: Penelope Niven, with Poems and Prose by Carl Sandburg; Illustrator: Marc Nadel
Pages: 32
Publisher/Date: Harcourt/2003
ISBN: 0152046860
Age Levels: 6 and up

Book Review

In this biography of Carl Sandburg, Penelope Niven draws on her considerable knowledge of the poet to create a first-rate presentation. (Niven is the author of Carl Sandburg: A Biography, as well as the founder and director the National Carl Sandburg Oral History Project.)

The book proceeds in chronological fashion. Each double-page spread juxtaposes biographical information (on the left) with one of Sandburg's poems or a prose selection (on the right). This has the effect of making the poems and prose more personal, more meaningful. In the section titled "Soldier," for example, Niven discusses Sandburg's participation in the Spanish-American War. He and fellow soldiers had to wade ashore "in deep water, dressed in hot wool uniforms left over from the Civil War." On the facing page we read the poignant "New Feet":
Empty battlefields keep their phantoms.
Grass crawls over old gun wheels
And nodding Canada thistle flings a purple
Into the summer's southwest wind,
Wrapping a root in the rust of a bayonet,
Reaching a blossom in the rust of shrapnel.
Marc Nadel's watercolor-and-crosshatch illustrations are beautifully done, historically accurate, and the perfect compliment to Niven's text. According to the "Illustration Notes," Sandburg's personal possessions are featured in the artwork.

Carl Sandburg was a multifaceted individual: a journalist, a family man, a storyteller, an historian, and a dreamer. Niven does an extraordinary job of bringing to life America 's "Poet of the People."

Reviewed by the teachers at Education Oasis.
©2004 Education Oasis®

About the Author

Penelope Niven is renowned for her adult biography of Carl Sandburg. She lives in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and is writer-in-residence at Salem College.

Carl Sandburg (1878-1967) distinguished himself through his writing—as the Poet of the People. His many literary honors include two Pulitzer Prizes, one each for history and poetry.

About the Illustrator

Marc Nadel has created illustrations for many diverse books. He lives in Burlington, Vermont.