I felt like I was on a roll with children's poetry - I absolutely loved Out of the Dust, and I liked Joyful Noise very much. Last week I picked up my son's copy of A Pizza the Size of the Sun (by Jack Prelutsky) and read it without even meaning to do so before re-shelving it. And I have always liked "Tyger, Tyger, burning bright, In the forests of the night" (the only William Blake poem I can remember), so I thought that A Visit to William Blake's Inn was a good bet for my next read.
I was a little disappointed. It's a short book, shelved with the younger kids' picture books in our library (it won Caldecott honors in addition to the Newbery award), and I just didn't find the the sixteen poems and the accompanying illustrations about an imaginary inn run by William Blake terribly compelling. I like reading about (and watching video re-creations of) Regency period England, too. I just moved Pride & Prejudice (both recent versions) up on my Netflix queue. Again. Not just so I can see Colin Firth swimming, either.
The poems and the illustrations do have a certain charm reminiscent of old nursery rhymes, and they suit each other very well. But I would be very surprised if this were a favorite of many kids. I can see that some adults would enjoy it (especially if you have a fondness for early 19th century England) - but this is supposed to be an award for children's literature, not children's literature written for adults, and that's how this book struck me.
The Wise Cow Enjoys a Cloud
"Where did you sleep last night, Wise Cow?
Where did you lay your head?"
"I caught my horns on a rolling cloud
and made myself a bed,
and in the morning ate it raw
on freshly buttered bread." (p. 26)