Saturday, May 30, 2015

A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson, illustrated by Tasha Tudor

Over the years, I have heard a number of authors mention the poetry of Robert Louis Stevenson, and none were more impressive than the mention and admiration of the renowned poet, W.S. Merwin.  In an interview a few years ago with Bill Moyers, he recounted how his mother read to him every night.  He especially loved A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson.  I have been coveting a copy of this collection for some time, but somehow, other things always got in the way.  While wandering through the offerings of Amazon, I came across a copy illustrated by none other than the marvelous children’s book illustrator, Tasha Tudor.  The book arrived today, and I dropped everything to read it aloud, as Merwin suggested.  Some of these poems sounded vaguely familiar, although I cannot recall my mother reading me any poetry.  She liked stories, and so did I.

This simple and endearing collection is a wonderful way to introduce children to the magic and beauty of poetry.  Here is an example of one I vaguely remember from my childhood, “Bed in Summer”:

In winter I get up at night
And dress by yellow candle-light.
In summer, quite the other way,
I have to go to bed by day.

I have to go to bed and see
The birds still hoping on the tree,
Or hear the grown-up people’s feet
Still going past me in the street.

And does it not seem hard to you,
When all the sky is clear and blue,
And I should like so much to play,
To have to go to bed by day? (10).

Another brief poem I especially liked was “Looking Forward”:

When I am grown to man’s estate
I shall be proud and very great,
And tell the other girls and boys
Not to meddle with my toys.” (18).

Of course, I would make one minor change – the last word should now be “books.”  Robert Louis Stevenson’s collection, A Child’s Garden of Verses is an enchanting source for reading to children and helping them understand the beauty and playfulness of verse.  The delightful illustrations by Tasha Tudor, the renowned children’s book illustrator, only adds to the experience.  5 stars.

--Chiron, 5/25/15

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