Willie loved to write — words gave him freedom and peace. But he also knew that he needed to earn a living, so when he grew up he went off to medical school and became a doctor — one of the busiest men in town! Yet he never stopped writing.

When he wrote poems, he felt as free as the Passaic River as it rushed to the falls. Willie’s notebooks filled up, one after another. Willie’s words gave him freedom and peace, but he also knew he needed to earn a living. So he went off to medical school and became a doctor -- one of the busiest men in town! Yet he never stopped writing poetry. In this picture book biography of William Carlos Williams, Jen Bryant’s engaging prose and Melissa Sweet’s stunning mixed-media illustrations celebrate the amazing man who found a way to earn a living and to honor his calling to be a poet.

Find this Caldecott Honor biography at local independent bookstores, through IndieBound, Barnes and Noble, Amazon, or in your local library. Available soon in paperback!

FOR EDUCATORS: Download the Educator’s Guide for A RIVER OF WORDS.

Pair this biography with Joyce Sidman’s RED SINGS FROM THE TREETOPS and Sharon Creech’s LOVE THAT DOG. All three books have a wonderful take on Williams’s poetry.


ALA Caldecott Honor Book

New York Times 20o8 Best Illustrated Children's Books

Cooperative Children's Book Center Charlotte Zolotow Honor Award

Kirkus Reviews Best Children's Books of the Year

Christian Science Monitor, Best Children's Books of the Year

School Library Journal, Best Books of the Year

International Reading Association, Teacher's Choice List

Book Links, Lasting Connections

NCTE Notable Children's Books in the Language Arts

NCTE Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children

Children's Book Council, Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People

Cooperative Children's Book Center, CCBC Choices

Maine Library Association, Lupine Picture Book Award WinneAmerican Library Association


With plain words, appropriate to the style of this master of clear and precisely worded poetry, and brilliant images, Bryant and Sweet introduce Williams and his poetry in a fresh, accessible way. . . It is entirely possible that this offering will not only acquaint readers with the man and his poetry but will also inspire creativity — Williams would no doubt be pleased.
— Kirkus, starred review
This gorgeous collage of words and images reveals bits and snatches of Williams’s life?an ordinary childhood, a love of science and nature, a busy medical career, and a quiet obsession with poetry. The writer’s words are incorporated into the colorful multimedia artwork, creating a lively, lyrical picture-book biography
— Curriculum Connections, School Library Journal
This stunning picture-book biography combines a lyrical text with wonderfully creative mixed-media illustrations in an impressive and personal homage to an extraordinary and accomplished man.
— School Library Journal, starred review