Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Poetry Anthology for All Children

When I was working the book fair at Z's school last year, I noticed The Bill Martin Jr. Big Book of Poetry.  I didn't get a chance to look at it so I grabbed a copy from the library this month for our poetry project.  This is a beautiful book that was printed as a tribute to Bill Martin Jr. who passed away in 2004.  I'm sure you know Martin from his books Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? and Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.  This book has 200 poems, selected by Martin and his friend and collaborator Michael Sampson.  It also has the work of 13 well-known artists like Lois Ehlert and Dan Yaccarino.

There are poems for all tastes in this anthology -- divided into categories like animals, nature, places, school and family.  The poets represented are numerous and most of the poems here were new to me.  Some are short and sweet and others are a bit longer but there is nothing that would try the attention span of even the youngest listeners.  This book is bright and beautiful and really succeeds is making poetry accessible.

We want to share two poems from the book -- one was Z's favorite and one was mine.  See if you can guess which is which.

by Anonymous

If you should meet a crocodile
Don't take a stick and poke him;
Ignore the welcome in his smile,
Be careful not to stroke him.
For as he sleeps upon the Nile,
He thinner gets and thinner;
Whenever you meet a crocodile
He's looking for his dinner.

My Shadow
by Robert Louis Stevenson

I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me,
And what can be the use of him is more than I can see.
He is very, very like me from the heels up to the head;
And I see him jump before me, when I jump into my bed.

The funniest thing about him is the way he likes to grow--
Not at all like proper children, which is always very slow;
For he sometimes shoots up taller like an india-rubber ball,
And he sometimes goes so little that there's none of him at all.

He hasn't got a notion of how children ought to play,
And can only make a fool of me in every sort of way.
He stays so close behind me, he's a coward you can see;
I'd think shame to stick to nursie as that shadow sticks to me!

One morning, very early, before the sun was up,
I rose and found the shining dew on every buttercup;
But my lazy little shadow, like an arrant sleepy-head,
Had stayed at home behind me and was fast asleep in bed.
Enjoying the varied world of poetry,
K and Z

Support our site and buy The Bill Martin Jr Big Book of Poetry on Amazon or find it at your local library. We borrowed our copy from the library.


  1. These poems are so lovely. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I am so going to get this!!!

    And I suspect you are "the shadow" (now that you have a permanent much samller one) and Z is the crocodile!

  3. You're welcome, Andreea!

    Jenners - It's a great book and I think we want our own copy. Today Z said that he was making his own Big Book of Poetry. :)

    And I like your reasoning ... Z is definitely my shadow!

  4. I'm always looking for ways to share poetry with my preschoolers and this looks like a great way to do just that. Thanks for posting about this!