Cover of Water Music by Jane Yolen and Jason Stemple

Water Music

Photographs by Jason Stemple
Boyds Mills 1995
ISBN# 1-56397-336-7 Boyds Mills hardcover
ISBN# 1-56398-251-8 Boyds Mills paperback

Though technically Jason’s second book, after “A Letter from Phoenix Farm,” it’s his first book of the heart. He and I found a number of water images he’d already shot in the Colorado mountains, and he then took off across country to California to shoot in the Big Sur country as well. Next he came home for a visit to Massachusetts where he shot the rubber duckie photograph, suds in the grass, iris after rain, goldfish in pool, and several others. I had a ball sitting with the prints all around the room working on poems that had the same watery feel. My own favorite in the book is the rubber duckie poem and the Water Lace (for which I had to do research since I know nothing about making lace or doing embroidery.)

What reviewers have said:

  • “Yolen notes that Stemple’s stunning full-color photographs were the inspiration for these 17 poems on different aspects of water. Ocean surf, dew drops, soap bubbles, a river, waterfall, icicle, and reflections are among the subjects sensitively wrought in words and pictures. The colors are soft and shimmering, reflecting the mood of quiet contemplation evoked by the verses. The attractively designed layout features one poem and photo per two-page spread. A book that can be appreciated by a wide audience.”- School Library Journal
  • “The seventeen brief, thematic poems are both meditative and playful, offering some fresh views of an essential element.”-The Horn Book Guide
  • “A mother and son combine their talents in a book that builds on the theme of water in its various forms. Stemple’s photographs, which Yolen notes preceded the poetry, are imaginatively composed and crisply focused. Never merely attractive landscapes, they actively draw the readers attention to the special qualities of water wherever it is found. Yolen’s 17 poems (included haiku and concrete poetry) invite us to consider water’s mysterious sounds, paths, and powers. Many are easy to understand, though a few require reflection, and one, “The Rock Cries Out,” may puzzle younger children. Useful in a primary science unit and for inspiring children to attempt poetry of their own.” — Booklist
  • “Inspired by the beauty of Jason Stemple’s photographs, Jane Yolen offers a poetic look at an basic essential in life often taken for granted–water. The playful, yet reflective poems observe nature in particular and life in general, that evoke a sense of awe and appreciation. From observing weeds adorned by water jewels to hearing the melodies of water singing across rocks, the careful selection of words and breathtaking photographs help elicit a new understanding of water. Readers of all ages will enjoy both the colorful photographs and the thoughtful collection of poems. Water Music offers multiple opportunities for integrating language arts and science instruction and would serve as an effective motivation for children writing poetry. This collection would be a welcomed addition to any classroom library from the primary grades through high school.” — Iowa Reading Journal
  • “This is a book of poems inspired by Jason Stemple’s pictures. The pictures illustrate water in all its forms, and the poems are Yolen’s responses. From dewdrops to raindrops, from a trickling stream to Niagara Falls, from a froth of soap bubbles to a puddle to a lake, from icicles to steam-water is music. And Jane Yolen is magnificent.” — Children’s Literature