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The Ladderby Halfdan Rasmussen
Synopses & Reviews
A curious ladder inadvertently becomes a pathway to the clouds in this droll, interactive translation of an enchanting Danish poem.
So first it did a little dance,
then it did a little prance,
then, as nicely as you please,
it waddled off with stiff red knees.
Once there was a jaunty ladder, abandoned by a mysterious carpenter, that sprung to life and decided to take a trip through the countryside. As time passed, the gentle ladder found itself intrigued by a seriesof encounters with people and animals that climbed it to the top and disappeared into the sky, only to return, one by one, in a triumphant parade at the end. This exquisite edition of THE LADDER, the text of which was originally written by renowned Danish poet Halfdan Rasmussen, combines a translation by award-winning author and poet Marilyn Nelson with simple, striking artwork by Pierre Pratt, featuring several foldouts and partial pages in a charming, whimsical design.
"Danish poet Rasmussen's charming, rather haunting tale in rhyming couplets opens as a carpenter climbs a ladder he built and disappears into the blue. Bereft of its owner, the ladder stumps off into the countryside ('Then it thought that it would be/ remarkable to go and see/ what's in the great wide world out there/ to see, if you go anywhere'). Various characters take the ladder's height and attractive red rungs as invitations to climb into the sky. These wild events use to the fullest not only the powers of illustrator Pratt (The Very Busy Life of Olaf and Venus), but several gatefolds that fully exploit the views of ascending brass bands and big luxury cars as they make their way up the ladder into the heavens. Rasmussen's tongue-in-cheek verse renders these vertical trips matter-of-factly: 'With a root-toot-toot and a rat-tat-tatter/ they marched right to the foot of the ladder.' Just as the ladder begins to worry about the effect he has on the people he meets ('This isn't normal. I must stop/ folks from jumping off my top!') a meteorological event intervenes and restores the whole crowd to earth (including the carpenter, who reclaims his ladder and disappears without a word). While those who prefer explanations and sensible endings may be left puzzled, most will be beguiled by the vision of an upside-down world in which humans do nonsensical things, leaving inanimate objects to reflect upon them. Ages 4-7." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
A curious ladder inadvertently becomes a pathway to the clouds in this droll, interactive translation of Rasmussen's enchanting Danish poem, featuring several foldouts and partial pages in a charming, whimsical design. Full color.
About the Author
HALFDAN RASMUSSEN's poetry is a fundamental part of the children's literary canon in Denmark; his works are constantly being republished, and many have been set to music. While Rasmussen's children's verse
is loved for its infectious rhyme, his adult-oriented writing is deeply concerned with social issues and human rights. Sadly, Halfdan Rasmussen passed away in 2002, but prior to his death, he granted Ms.
Nelson express permission to produce English versions of his works.
MARILYN NELSON is an award-winning author and poet for adults and children. The recipient of a Newbery Honor for CARVER: A LIFE IN POEMS, she is also a professor of English at the University of
Connecticut at Storrs and Poet Laureate of the State of Connecticut. Of THE LADDER, she says, "One of the lasting joys of the year I spent teaching English in a little college on the west coast of Denmark was
reading the verse of the great Halfdan Rasmussen and being invited to his home. My translations are my gift to him and to English-speaking readers everywhere."
PIERRE PRATT has illustrated and written many award-winning books, including the Very Busy Life of Olaf and Venus series. He says, "When I first read THE LADDER, I knew the only possible thing to do was illustrate the book as an homage to so wonderful a poem and poet. I tried to complement the wit and finesse that the text achieves with words and rhymes in my use of lines, space, and colors." Pierre Pratt is eager to
start work on his next book based on a poem by Halfdan Rasmussen.
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