First published in 1956, May Swenson's The Centaur remains one of her most popular and most anthologized poems. This is its first appearance as a picture book for children. In images bright and brisk and tangible, the poet re-creates the joy of riding a stick horse through a small-town summer. As her shape shifts from child to horse and back, we kw exactly what she feels. Sherry Meidell's water-color illustrations perfectly convey the wit and beauty of May Swenson's poem. These are playful, satisfying images full of vitality and imagination. Meidell handles the joy of poem'sfantasy and the joy of its occasional naughtiness with equal success.
May Swenson was born in Logan, Utah in 1913, the first of ten children. As a child, she played in the willows and along a canal that carried water from the nearby mountains through her small town, just as the speaker in The Centaur does. Eleven volumes of her poetry were published during her lifetime, earning her dozens of awards, membership in the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, and the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship. During the last years of her life, she served as a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. May died in 1989 and is buried less than a mile from her canal in The Centaur. Sherry Meidell lives in West Bountiful, Utah, and coincidentally spent many childhood summers near May Swenson's home. A member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, she specializes in brushes and watercolor with pencil for detail. The Centaur is the ninth book she has illustrated.