The Rooster Crows

Title: The Rooster Crows
Author: Maud & Miska Petersham
Pages: 62
Reading Level: 8 & up
Star Rating: ★★★

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Few things expose the character of a people more than their folk songs. This book, subtitled ‘A Book of American Rhymes and Jingles’ serves as a glimpse into the lives of the American people in their earlier centuries.

Here are a few of my favorite rhymes from this book.

Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear,
Fuzzy Wuzzy lost his hair.
The Fuzzy Wuzzy wasn’t fuzzy,
Was he? [pg. 37]


The rose is red, the violet’s blue,
Sugar’s sweet and so are you.
If you love me as I love you,
No knife can cut our love in two.
My love for you will never fail
As long as pussy has a tail. [pg. 43]

And perhaps my favorite,

As sure as the vine
Twines ‘round the stump,
You’re my darling sugar lump. [pg. 40]



Several of the poems (as is common with jingles) involved exaggeration / tall talishness.

One of the poems refers to kissing. Another involves a little girl who doesn’t want to get up in the morning until her mother promises her a “nice young man with rosy cheeks”.

Conclusion. A nice introduction to the entertainment of past generations, The Rooster Crows features a sweet Dick-and-Jane illustration style and lots of fun verses.

A Treasure Chest of Poetry

Title: A Treasure Chest of Poetry
Author: Various
Illustrator: Laszlo Matulay
Pages: 416
Star Rating: ★★★★

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A Treasure Chest of Poetry. What a fitting title. For it is a treasure chest. As with all treasure chests, a few of the golden trinkets are tarnished, but on the whole, it is precious. It includes over two hundred poems, including my perennial favorites Horatius at the Bridge, The Tiger, The Captain’s Daughter, The Glove and the Lions, A Modest Wit, Lady Clare, and The Children’s Hour.

I was delighted to find three of Isaac Watts’ poems for children hidden in these pages, as well as to discover a few new favorites – Robert of Linocln, Little Things, Song of Life, A Farewell, The Landing of the Pilgrims, The Diverting History of John Gilpin, and The Nose and the Eyes.


Several of the poems (as is unavoidable) held what I consider to be incorrect theology (Walt Whitman’s, Tennyson’s and Poe’s, mostly). Also, some of the poems refer to false gods, Muses, genii, and other such beings (The Finding of the Lyre, The Musical Instrument, Cupid Stung, and Cupid Drowned being the primary examples). Magic also plays a role in several of the poems, most noticeably, The Lady of Shalott.

Little Bille is the story of two sailors who decide to eat a little boy. The little boy outwits them and lives, but it is a grotesque suggestion.

Krinken by Eugene Field tells the story of a little boy whom the sea longed to “clasp to its bosom”. In the end, we learn that he did indeed drown.

Little Orphant Annie is the story of a little girl who likes to tell stories about witches and Gobble-ums who will “gits you ef you don’t watch out!”

Several fanciful poems are includeded – i.e., The Cow Jumped Over the Moon and The Owl and the Pussycat, however, they contained nothing inappropriate.

Conclusion. As I have stated, A Treasure Chest of Poetry is not unalloyed gold, but it is a solid anthology that will delight its readers.

Sparrow Song

Title: Sparrow Song
Author: Ben Shector
Pages: 30
Reading Level: 7-8
Star Rating: ★★

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I could not find a picture of the real book cover…. Hence the picture of a sparrow. :)

I think it took me three minutes to read this book. Literally. It is a series of very simple poems written for children with accompanying full page illustrations.

The story seems to be about the destruction of an old, empty two story house. A little boy watches as the wrecking ball sways in readiness to demolish. He sees the little animals that lived in the house; he touches the furniture that rested there. At the end of the days the wreckers go home after destroying the house, but the little boy sets up a new home for the sparrow – a tiny house on top of a pole.

There aren’t any inappropriate elements in the poetry, but its style is modern. Instead of being happy and lyrical the tone is bleak and its lyrical emphasis is the deliberate isolation of phrases rather than the flowing connection of ideas.

Conclusion. Sparrow Song is not a favorite of mine, but it is not harmful.

Please Mrs Butler

Title: Please Mrs Butler
Author: Allan Ahlberg
Pages: 93
Recommended Ages: Not Recommended
Star Rating:

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I purchased Please Mrs Butler as a concession to my great enjoyment of poetry.  As poems I enjoyed this collection a great deal – they were sprightly, had splendid rhymes, and were extremely realistic. As literature for children I did not enjoy them at all.

Praises. None except that the poems are well-written. But what’s the good of that if they aren’t fit to be read by their intended audience? The Ordeal of Robin Hood is the one exception to this; I laughed heartily at it.

Dislikes. All of the verses in Please Mrs Butler are based on class-room or school-related experiences. There are poems about trips to the school nurse, fights at recess, substitute teachers, lunchtime, games, etc. I hope my children never experience the public school environment, and do not intend to expose them to it for the sake of a few poems. But even apart from this there were elements which made this collection unacceptable.

There was an underlying element of tension between adults and children; this manifested itself in the form of back-talk, lying, and general disrespect towards adults on the part of the children. The adults in turn are usually exasperated at the children. The children also display a great deal of manipulativeness towards each other. Finally, a rather savage (unresolved) argument is reported between a husband and wife in which they throw things at each other.

Conclusion. If these elements had been the exception I would have been very reluctant to recommend Please Mrs Butler. Seeing as they were the rule, I find recommending it utterly impossible. This book simply is not worth purchasing, but if you ever get the opportunity, go ahead and read The Ordeal of Robin Hood.

A Child’s Garden of Verses

Title: A Child’s Garden of Verses
Author: Various – featuring R. L. Stevenson
Pages: 208
Star Rating: ★★★★

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When I was a little girl I made a great discovery. I discovered poetry. I discovered it in the form of a few simple rhymes written by obscure authors. I fell in love with poetry. And not only did I fall in love with poetry, I also decided that I was a poet. Thereafter ensued many poetic character sketches such as “Mom is nice, she cooks rice”.

There was nothing amazing about the book I had read. But what is amazing is the influence that one little book has had on me through all these years. I now own over seventy-five books of poetry; I’ve read most of them. Writing poetry is still a pursuit of mine; I get excited over rhythmic patterns, meters, and rhyming schemes.   And all because I read a little book of poems when I was six.

I plan to read A Child’s Garden of Verses to my children. Then I plan to let them read it to themselves when they are able. I hope that they’ll grow up considering it one of their friends, laughing at the jolly subjects and rollicking verses. I hope that this book will cause my children to love poetry, to write poetry, to treasure poetry. And perhaps one day, one of my little dears will write “Mom is sweet, she cooks meat” and dedicate it to me.


I can’t include all of the poems I liked, but I’ll give you two of my favorites.

“I love you well, my little brother,
and you are fond of me;
Let us be kind to one another,
As brothers ought to be.
You shall learn to play with me,
And learn to use my toys;
And then I think that we shall be
Two happy little boys.”
– Mother Goose

 My Mother
(by Ann Taylor)
Who dressed my doll in clothes so gay,
And fondly taught me how to play,
And minded all I had to say?
My mother.

Who ran to help me when I fell,
And would some pretty story tell,
Or kiss the place to make it well?
My mother.

Who taught my infant lips to pray,
And love God’s holy book and day,
And walk in wisdom’s pleasant way?
My mother.


The Little Jumping Girls by Kate Greenaway was included. One of the verses reads:

Jump all night;
Won’t our mothers
Be in a fright?”

It seems that scaring mothers makes play more exciting.

The Unseen Playmate by Robert Louis Stevenson speaks of an invisible playmate who plays games with children. It is true that children often invent imaginary friends, but this is hardly something that should be encouraged.

Hans Christian Andersen is quoted as saying, “Every man’s life is a fairy tale, written by God’s fingers.” I understand what Mr. Andersen is trying to communicate – that every man’s life is as specially crafted as any written story, and that ‘real life’ is as exciting as the stories that we read – but better words could have been chosen to communicate these facts.

In a selection from Hymns In Prose For Children, Anna Laetitia Barbauld states,

“There is little need that I should tell you of God, for every thing speaks of him…. We cannot see God, for he is invisible; but we can see his works, and worship his footsteps in the green sod.”

It is true that ‘The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.” (Psalm 19:1-3), but we are also commanded by God to instruct our children in his ways. “These words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children…” (Deut. 6:6-7) It is also true that we should praise God for his marvels, and delight in His creative work. But he distinctly condemns worshipping His handiworks in Romans 1:25 “[who] changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.”

Shadow March by Robert Louis Stevenson assigns sinister/monster-like attributes to shadows.

In yet another selection from Hymns In Prose for Children, Anna Laetitia Barbauld states, “Many kingdoms, and countries full of people, and islands, and large continents, and different climates, make up this whole world – God governeth it.” This is a true statement. But Mrs. Barbauld uses this truth as a basis for an untruth, for she goes on to say, “All are God’s family; he knoweth every one of them, as a shepherd knoweth his flock……” Mrs. Barbauld here fails to distinguish between existence in God’s world and existence in God’s family; only those who are regenerate are God’s family.

The Night before Christmas by Clement C. Moore is included.

Conclusion. The combination of beautiful, sober illustrations and enchanting verse makes this book invaluable. I fully recommend its purchase here.