03 March 2006

A Children's Poem

Scrivener had a wonderful post a while back about reading Seamus Heaney with Chloe and Ella. One of the things I love about reading with Curious Girl is poetry (even prose poetry): a great children's book will have great rhythm, great sounds, great imagery.

One of our friends gave us Judy Sierra et al.'s Antarctic Antics: A Book of Penguin Poems. While not all these poems are great, there's one poem that instantly became CG's first favorite poem. I look forward to her maturing taste in poetry, but for now, here's a poem that is guaranteed to make us all laugh, "I Am Looking for My Mother."

I am looking for my mother.
But you all look like each other.
So I'll do what Mama said,
And I'll use my ears instead.

My mom does not say eck.
She might give ms a peck
On the back of my neck,
But she'd never say eek.


My mom wouldn't say ick!
She would call me her chick
As she gives me a lick,
But she couldn't say ick.

My mom does not say eek!
he might let out a shriek
That would make the ice creak
But she'd never squeak eek

What mom would say awk?
is only a sqwawk,
And it's no way to talk.
Go away with your awk!

Such a sweet sounding ack.
Lovely Mom, you've come back.
Did you bring me a snack?
Only my mom says ack!

Sociolinguistically, I'm not thrilled with the awk verse, since I think it reinforces negative attitudes about the phonology of New York area English dialects. So we usually end up rhyming other things there, like "it's a great way to talk when you come from New York!" Children's literature--and movies in particular--can do a disservice to building linguistic tolerance. Rosina Lippi-Green has a wonderful chapter about English accents and dialects in Disney movies in her excellent English With An Accent, for any linguistically-interested-parents out there.


Arwen said...

Nothing transports me back to childhood like the poetry of my childhood. Specifically AAMilne and Dennis Lee...
It's a huge gift my mom gave to me: the stories and music and poems of childhood.

susan said...

Did you see the penguin poem, Arwen? I just looked at the blog and noticed some screwy code was suppressing most of what I'd written.

Dennis Lee? I don't know him.

I loved AAMilne and still treasure the set of 4 hardcover Milne books that my aunt and uncle gave me for my fifth birthday. I have vivid memories of opening the present (perhaps b/c my uncle died shortly thereafter) and those books were in a special spot on my bookshelf for years. Then they disappeared for a while and I was happily reunited with them.

Piece of Work said...

I think that poem is terrific! Kids books ARE fun; I just wish Isaac wouldn't pick the Barney ones as his favorite.

Susoz said...

I enjoyed that poem.
I love AA Milne too and have read them to my son for years (he loves all the strange ones about knights). We have a couple of hardback poetry anthologies for children (English mostly) and one 'Australian poems for children' which we read regularly.

A said...

Dennis Lee is Canadian, hence your not knowing him, I bet!

"Alligator Pie
Alligator Pie
If I don't get some I think I'm going to die.
Give away my green grass
Give away my sky
But don't give away my
Alligator Pie".

... Repeat with any sort of food and give aways. Good for driving.

Dennis Lee does updated nursery rhymes, primarily.

I'm going to have to tell the penguin rhyme to Ripley! Thanks for that.

Arwen said...

Oh, I mean, "in the STYLE of nursery rhymes." He doesn't rewrite existing ones.
And that was me.