Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Ode to Childhood: Poetry to Celebrate the Child, ed. by Lucy Gray

Ode to Childhood: Poetry to Celebrate the Child, ed. by Lucy Gray
Copyright 2014 
Batsford - Poetry (anthology)
Source: Sterling Children's Books

Brief synopsis
. . . a celebration of children, of childhood, and in many ways, of being a parent. [Ode to Childhood] covers some of the best poetry ever written about the charms and beauty of children, as well as the magical time of childhood. The poems range from the humour of childish talk and wonderment and the formation of childhood memories through to the pain of losing a child, and the profound love that a child can bring.
Featuring much loved poets such as Wordsworth, Betjeman, Blake and E E Cummings.
~ quoted from the cover

My thoughts:

When I first picked up Ode to Childhood, I had it in my head that it might be the kind of book you buy for a new parent, but then I got to, "A Child Ill" (that's "ILL") by John Betjeman, which begins, "Oh, little body, do not die," and I chucked that idea out the window.

I think, perhaps, I was also in the wrong mood when I first opened Ode to Childhood. I set the book aside and waited a bit, letting my mind-set change and reading from Inside Poetry Out, a book about how to read poetry, understand and enjoy it. Wow, has that book been helpful! On the second reading of Ode to Childhood, I found myself absolutely falling in love with this little anthology, picturing the little hands and tousled heads, the joyful moments of discovery. And, I got every bit as much out of the poems that are about the fear a child might die, the horror of being the victim of bullying, etc.

The illustrations are absolutely wonderful - bold, blocky, colorful illustrations that are nicely consistent, throughout.

Ode to Childhood is the kind of poetry book that you keep to read over and over and over, again, when you want to be reminded of what it was like to feel the bliss of childhood as you explored with your fat little hands and wobbly legs, to remember when your little ones were around and how much light they brought into your world (if you're a parent) or just to read for pleasure.

Highly recommended - I smiled almost all the way through this book; I absolutely love Ode to Childhood.  The poetry is nicely varied, covering a broad perspective of childhood's joys and fears (more heavily focused on the positive side) and with absolutely beautiful illustrations. It's truly a little gem.  My only caution is that it's not a book I'd wrap up and give to a poetry-loving new parent, if only because they might not appreciate being reminded that bad things happen to children while they're still counting fingers and toes. Then again, a new parent probably won't get around to reading it for a long time!

Most of the poetry in Ode to Childhood was new to me, although I did recognize some.  A couple of the poems are a little tricky to read because of their age but after reading some of Inside Poetry Out, which advises you to read a poem twice silently and then again aloud, I found myself relaxing into the poetry and actually realized the oldest poems were quite clear when read aloud or even imagining someone reading them aloud. Amazing what a difference that makes.

©2014 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery  or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.


  1. When I first saw this cover, I thought "Oh, good!" because all of a sudden there are so many new babies in my family. I became a great aunt this past weekend, plus there are several cousins with new babies, and I thought this might be a good gift. I'm glad you help me with my decision to hold off. There are so many new picture books hitting the shelves; I think I look at some of them for gift ideas and peruse this one for myself. :)

    1. Oh, I can recommend a couple great board books! 1-2-3 Dinosaur's Bite by Steve Jenkins is totally adorable. It has little cut-out bites around the edges of the book. I love Spot the Animals by the same author, also. It's a lift-the-flap book about color and it's so cute!!!

      Definitely look into Ode to Childhood for yourself. It's a delight.

  2. This art work reminds me of a book from my childhood. Ah memories.

    1. I approve of your childhood, then. Aren't they wonderful?


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