The Poet Upstairs by Judith Ortiz Cofer

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Juliana is too sick to go to school one cold, winter day. So she stays at home in bed and looks out her bedroom window. She watches as a tall lady in a red coat and hat carries her boxes of books and papers upstairs. Her mother has heard that the mysterious woman is a poet writing a book. Juliana loves books and can't wait to meet the poet upstairs.

Juliana listens to the poet's typewriter clicking and clacking all day long, while outside the snow falls and people rush by bundled up in their coats. She dreams of a tiny tropical island "sitting on the ocean like a green button on a blue dress," the island home that her mother and the poet share. She dreams of red hibiscus flowers and beaches of white sand.

The next day, she receives an invitation from the poet to come upstairs. Together, they write a poem about a big river that leads to the sea. As they make pictures with words, the walls of the cold apartment become a beautiful vista of mountains, palm trees, birds and flowers. That special day, poetry takes Juliana from her cold and ordinary apartment to a sparkling island habitat.

Invoking Puerto Rican poet Julia de Burgos' famous poem about the Loiza River, Ortiz Cofer's lyrical text is combined with Oscar Ortiz's breathtaking illustrations of the natural world and the animals that inhabit it. This inspiring picture book for children ages 5 to 9 demonstrates the power of the written word as Juliana learns that poetry can change the world.

About Judith Ortiz Cofer

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Published November 30, 2012 by Pinata Books. 32 pages
Genres: Education & Reference, Sports & Outdoors, Travel, Children's Books.

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Poet Upstairs

Kirkus Reviews

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With help from her imagination and the poet upstairs, a young Latina escapes a dreary winter in the city.

Sep 19 2012 | Read Full Review of The Poet Upstairs

Publishers Weekly

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after venturing upstairs, Juliana collaborates with the poet on a poem that opens the girl’s eyes to the way that “words can change the world.” While heartfelt, Cofer’s prose can be overly sentimental (“a poem is like a magic carpet that can take you anywhere in the world and let you be...

Sep 17 2012 | Read Full Review of The Poet Upstairs

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