Book of Questions (Hardcover)

Book of Questions By Pablo Neruda, Paloma Valdivia (Illustrator), Sara Lissa Paulson (Translated by) Cover Image
By Pablo Neruda, Paloma Valdivia (Illustrator), Sara Lissa Paulson (Translated by)
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Where is the center of the sea? Why do the waves never break there? A book containing unanswerable, fantastical questions, inviting us to be curious, while simultaneously embracing what we cannot know.

A New York Times Best Children's Book of 2022
Marginalian (fka Brain Pickings) Favorite Book of 2022
New York Times Bestseller!
A USBBY Outstanding International Book of 2023
A 2023 Bologna Ragazzi Award Amazing Bookshelf Selection
Selected for the Academy of American Poets 2022 Featured Fall Books List for Young Readers

Starred reviews in The Horn Book, Kirkus, SLJ, and PW!

This bilingual Spanish-English edition is the first illustrated selection of questions, 70 in all, from Pablo Neruda's original poem (320 questions) The Book of Questions

Holding the wonder and mystery of childhood and the experience and knowing that come with growing up, these questions are by turns lyrical, strange, surreal, spiritual, historical and political. They foreground the natural world, and their curiosity transcends all logic; and because they are paradoxes and riddles that embrace the limits of our ability to know, they engage with human freedom in the deepest way, removing the burden and constraint that somehow, we are meant to have answers to every question. 

Gorgeously, cosmically illustrated by Paloma Valdivia, here Neruda's questions, already visual in themselves, gain a double visuality that makes them even more palpable and resonant. So clearly rooted in Chilean landscapes as they are, the questions are revealed as a communion with nature and its mysteries.

About the Author

Sara learned Spanish in the streets of Sevilla with Antonio Marín Márquez, his bandmates, friends, and family. It was there that she got her first translation job at age 19, working for a local music zine. Her degrees are in Comparative Literature, Spanish, Bilingual Education, and Library Science. She has worked as a children’s librarian in NYC’s alternative elementary and high schools for over 21 years, reading aloud day in and day out, and teaches future librarians of all ages at Queens College’s Graduate School of Library and Information Studies.

Praise For…

  • New York Times Best Children's Book of 2022
  • Marginalian (formerly Brain Pickings) Favorite Book of 2022
  • A New York Times Bestseller!
  • A USBBY Outstanding International Book of 2023
  • A 2023 Bologna Ragazzi Award Amazing Bookshelf Selection
  • Selected for the Academy of American Poets 2022 Featured Fall Books List for Young Readers
“This work... brings together 74 poems shaped around mysterious, playful, frequently metaphysical questions about nature, constellations, memory, numbers, oceans, the interior life of the mind. Not one of the questions contained in this book resolves an issue of fact. These questions raise other questions. They suggest ideas... It’s good news that Neruda’s question poems (39 of the original 74) have been freshly translated into English by Sara Lissa Paulson and presented for the first time in picture book form, with stylized, dreamlike illustrations by the Chilean artist Paloma Valdivia—English on one side of the page, Spanish on the other... This is a physically beautiful book. Neruda likely would have approved of the way Valdivia has made his dream world real.”
— Joyce Maynard

Compiled throughout his life and published a year after his death in 1973, Neruda's thoughtful and playful questions are well known in Latin American literature. Now, a new bilingual, illustrated selection of Neruda's questions has been published by Enchanted Lion Books, giving anglophone readers—and especially children—an opportunity to interrogate the world along with the Chilean poet… The new edition is meant for everyone in the family. The book is large and contains playful fold-out pages and whimsical illustrations that help bring readers into the imaginative world of the questions… In illustrating these questions, Valdivia didn't want to hint at any answers. In fact, part of the magic of Neruda's questions is not that the reader finds an answer but rather finds even more questions.

Book of Questions now comes alive in a stunning bilingual picture-book, illustrated by Chilean artist Paloma Valdivia. Given Valdivia’s roots and her personal resonance with Neruda, many of the illustrated questions are chosen for and filtered through the lens of landscape and its ecosystems. Of Neruda’s original questions—each of them unanswerable, all of them worth asking, crackling with some vital spark of playfulness or poignancy—seventy come ablaze amid the vibrant illustrations and fold-out delights, radiant with the colors and textures of Latin American tapestry. Out of the totality arises a larger sense of reckoning—a person of uncommon soulfulness and sensitivity to the subterranean strata of life, approaching the end of his days with a cascade of curiosity, singing the ultimate question: What is all this?"
— Maria Popova

STARRED REVIEW! ★ “Blues and reds and yellows weave in and out of words trailing one after another, poking and prodding the universe for answers to millennia-old questions. Sixty of the original 316 questions penned by the inimitable Chilean poet Pablo Neruda perch on vibrant landscapes solo, in pairs, or in trilling triplets. Each rumination is compelling in its whimsy, yet profound in its simplicity. Just as a wish cast onto the heavens returns with a treasure, so too do the thoughts of the poet. The answers, like the questions, dwell in infinity. Both the original Spanish and Paulson’s English translation mirror the poignancy echoing from one tongue to the next. Her translations sustain the lyricism of Neruda’s dreamscapes. Valdivia’s stylized illustrations are striking and a perfect counterpoint to this wondrous collection of ethereal literary images. A lovely exploration of diversity, language, and culture, and a splendid introduction to Neruda’s works for the very young.”
— School Library Journal

STARRED REVIEW! ★ “Selections from Neruda’s final work come magically to life with inventive illustrations in this bilingual volume… Readers will be enchanted by their mind-expanding whimsy and creativity. Chilean artist Valdivia’s stylized artwork, executed predominantly in blues, reds, and yellows against black or white backgrounds, feels grounded in folk-art traditions. Created with pencil and ink, with photographs in the illustrator’s note showing the work in progress, the full-page art is visually captivating and enhanced with texture—lines, splatters, blotting—both complementing and extending the text. ‘Does the earth chirp like a cricket / in the symphony of the skies? // Who shouted for joy / when the color blue was born?’ is accompanied by a charcoal cricket standing against a dizzying swoop of blue expanse and the curve of rising mountains and vegetation… Exquisite endpapers pay tribute to the universe contained within. A gorgeous work that stretches the imagination and delights the senses.”
— Kirkus Reviews

STARRED REVIEW! ★ "This lavish volume includes excerpts from Neruda’s Libro de las preguntas in the original Spanish alongside new English translations by Paulson. Valdivia’s expansive illustrations give readers plenty of space to dwell on each question. The questions themselves, mostly arranged as couplets, have no answers and often imaginative premises: 'Who shouted for joy / when the color blue was born?' 'Where can you find a bell / that rings inside your dreams?' Frequent gatefolds function as transitions between related illustrations or as pauses between related questions. Back matter includes notes about the source material and its meaning from the illustrator, editor, and translator. Endlessly perusable—as long as you have the elbow room—the book is perfectly pitched to encourage students to write their own question poems."
— The Horn Book

STARRED REVIEW! ★ “Intriguing questions with no answers make up this oversize dual-language volume by two Chilean creators, featuring Neruda’s sophisticated musings. Paulson’s translations of the poet’s lines are sometimes playful—'When I look once more at the sea, / does the sea see me or not see me?'—and often beautiful: 'So, how do roots know / they must rise up to the light // And later greet the air with crowds of colorful flowers?' Employing a black, green, red, and yellow palette, Valdivia’s artwork feels as dark and mysterious as Neruda’s questions. Elegantly designed with many bonus gatefolds, the pages include humorous inquiries such as, 'Why, when expecting snow, / do trees take off their clothes?' and close with a final provocative one: 'Might I ask my book / if I’m the one who really wrote it?' ... This unusual collection will speak to thoughtful young readers who appreciate enigmas.”
— Publishers Weekly

“If I were asked to describe the book in one word, it’d be wonder. It’s utterly wonder-filled. These questions marvel at the mystery of our world…Valdivia’s highly textured illustrations are mesmerizing dreamscapes in teals, vermilions, and yellows. They play with scale and perspective in visually rich ways. And the book’s thoughtful design includes more than one gatefold and endless visual surprises. It’s a book that young thinkers—deep thinkers—will savor. It’s a book that demands time in the best way. It yields big rewards for readers who linger, taking in the wonder and curiosity of it all.”
— Julie Danielson

"Neruda’s Questions plumbs the depths of imagination, existence, earth and its life with a curiosity that is free-ranging and mind-expanding. 'Which is more difficult, to sprout or to reap?' 'How many questions are in a cat?' There’s much for any age to ponder in this lavishly illustrated English/Spanish anthology that relishes questions with uncertain answers."
— Toronto Star

“If you are looking for some unconventional questions to pose to a child in your life, consider the new picture book adaptation of Pablo Neruda’s Book of Questions. This illustrated volume features selections from the esteemed Chilean poet’s series of 316 questions with no set answers, but with a universe of possible responses. Translated by Sara Lissa Paulson, this oversize book is bilingual, presenting Neruda’s questions in both English and Spanish. All of Neruda’s questions are brief, and no more than three to four are presented on any page. This makes the book approachable, allowing the reader to ponder a few questions at a time. The full page illustrations by Chilean-born Paloma Valdivia borrow inspiration from plants, animals, even outer space. Some illustrations open out to even larger panels, adding to the book’s wonder and surprise. The Book of Questions/Libro de las preguntas would be a beautiful gift volume for a bilingual family, or for a child who loves to ask questions. It would also be appreciated by any fan of Neruda’s poetry. Because picture books are for everyone, this book would easily fit in a secondary or university classroom, whether discussing poetry, creative writing, or even philosophy. Picture books are more than what they seem, as are children’s questions. Both can reveal truths to us, if we are only willing to see.”
— World Kid Lit

"39 of the 74 poems [of Book of Questions] are represented in this version, all present in vastness, open-endedness, and immense creativity... The illustrations support the atmosphere of the wondrous questions, housed on large pages with dark colors. Book of Questions brings Neruda's genius to a whole new generation of readers who may never have heard of Neruda otherwise. And the best part of this edition is how it includes the original lines in Spanish alongside the English text, paying homage to Neruda's work in its full package."
— Outside In World
Product Details
ISBN: 9781592703227
ISBN-10: 1592703224
Publisher: Enchanted Lion
Publication Date: April 26th, 2022
Pages: 80
Language: English