granddaughter turns on to poetry

I’ve always said that re-discovering the world through younger eyes is one of the best things about having children around. Yesterday afternoon when our six-year-old granddaughter came for a sleepover, she discovered the children’s book section of my “library” and I re-discovered one of my favorite children’s authors, Shel Silverstein. She wasn’t a very enthusiastic reader last year but we were happy her older brother was and decided one out of two (voracious readers in the family) ain’t bad. It seems quite recently that things have changed. Not only has her fervor for reading been ignited, her reading skills have developed to what I like to think of as phenomenal–just the right inflection, dramatic pauses, etc.–and of course I’m not at all prejudiced.

I’m such an admirer of Silverstein’s quirky, laid-back style, and defy anyone–no matter the age–NOT to find something they can identify with in one of his poetry books. His books have been translated into 30 languages, and have sold over 20 million copies and it’s so easy to see why. Silverstein died in 1999 at age 68. Too bad he couldn’t have gone on forever.

That’s Vimmy (ABOVE) preparing to read aloud to me from WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS, but her favorite poem of his–at least as of yesterday–was from A LIGHT IN THE ATTIC. When she read it to me, I understood perfectly that she had found herself in this one I’d like to share with you here. Perhaps through it you can re-discover the child that (probably) still lives in you.

“Little Abigail and the Beautiful Pony”

There was a girl named Abigail
Who was taking a drive
Through the country
With her parents
When she spied a beautiful sad-eyed
Grey and white pony.
And next to it was a sign
That said,
FOR SALE–CHEAP.
“Oh,” said Abigail,
“May I have that pony?
May I please?”
And her parents said,
“No you may not.”
And Abigail said,
“But I MUST have that pony.”
And her parents said,
“Well, you can’t have that pony,
But you can have a nice butter pecan
Ice cream cone when we get home.”
And Abigail said,
“I don’t want a butter pecan
Ice cream cone,
I WANT THAT PONY–
I MUST HAVE THAT PONY.”
And her parents said,
“Be quiet and stop nagging–
You’re not getting that pony.”
And Abigail began to cry and said,
“If I don’t get that pony I’ll die.”
And her parents said, “You won’t die.
No child ever died yet from not getting a pony.”
And Abigail felt so bad
That when they got home she went to bed,
And she couldn’t eat,
And she couldn’t sleep,
And her heart was broken,
And she DID die–
All because of a pony
That her parents wouldn’t buy.

(This is a good story
To read to your folks
When they won’t buy
You something you want.)

In spite of poor Abigail’s unhappy demise and her parent’s (deserved?) comeuppance–for which they must have forever been woefully sorry–I’m here to assure you and other girls like Abigail who may be reading this that no, you probably won’t die if you don’t get absolutely everything you want. Vimmy’s mother, who also wanted a pony when she was young is still around to this very day, and she finally understands why we didn’t buy her pony all those years ago. For my next poetry share I’ll have to tell you the poem I chose as an identifier for Vimmy’s older brother.

Ruminating and Illuminating

Yesterday’s snowy (4 inches here in the Wasatch benches) spring morning seemed like a good time to catch up my own blog reading, plus explore a few “teckie” blogs as I’m always hoping to learn how to do new things. As usual I got quite lost for awhile, had no idea where I was, but somewhere along the way I caught a snatch of a post that mentioned something about whether a photo of “you” first thing in the morning or a photo showing a random bookshelf showing what books you’re into would most define you as a person.

Later as I was remembering and thinking of it, I decided a variation on the theme would be a great idea (and quick!) for a post of my own. I’m sorry I can’t remember what blog gave me the inspiration (so I could attribute and link to it) as I was following lots of links and can only remember beginning somewhere in Germany. I’m sure there are lots of you blogaholics out there who are very much like me in your online meanderings and will understand perfectly.

So I decided to expose myself as I look early in the morning without so much as combing my hair or getting dressed. Here I am the way I look most every morning after I put my glasses on so I can see. Now you see what Hubby has to face over coffee every morning! It can be worse at times, but never gets better than this! not even after a trip to the beauty parlour!

What does it reveal? My sagging eyelids that I hate. Fat cheeks. My wrinkles. Thinning hair. But is that the real me? Nope! Not by the hairs on my chinny chin chin! It does give the impression of an old woman who is either crazy or very brave. I’ll let you be the judge of that! 

Then I went downstairs to my bookshelves. Which section of books most represent the essence of me? The fiction section? Maybe. If the picture were magnified a bit, you’d see that I’ve organized each book alphabetically by author’s last name. Does that tell you anything? On the left side, that book second from the left, is Iris Murdoch’s 1965 novel The Red and the Green about the 1916 Easter Uprising in Dublin. That tells you if I bought a book I like it stays around for a long, long time. The Eragon and the book beside it by James Patterson (in the center) are Hubby’s, not mine. Salmon Rushdie is there on the right edge with his Satanic Verses which I haven’t read at all other than scanning; It’s a very complicated book and I bought as a political statement more than for reading, and there’s even a Joyce Carol Oates and an R.K. Nagarajan. There’s even The Raj, that pink book that I didn’t even like that much except for the glimpses of British India it gives me.   

arranged alphabetically 

What might be slightly more revealing is the picture on the right that tells you I’ve collected a few children’s books over the yearsRepresentative of Shel Silverstein is A Light in the Attic and Where the Sidewalk Ends which belong in every home in my opinion to remind you to keep in touch with the child inside you. There’s several Caldecott winners there, too. That book on the right stack, on the top, is Duey’s Tale, about the death (and rebirth) of a leaf that fell from the tree in the fall by a surprising author. I wonder how many people know that Pearl Bailey wrote a book for children? It’s very long, and probably wouldn’t have been published if it hadn’t been written by a celebrity, but who I am to complain?

So there you go. Depending on your frame of mind, this is either a very revealing post about me, or more blogging trash deserving no more thought than that. Which one!? I wonder myself all the time.

Update:  The mystery for my inspiration has been solved! If you’ll click in the comments section following this post, you’ll see a link from bigappletobigbear, the blog in Germany. BABG is a transplanted New Yorker now living in Berlin. I’ve also added it to my Blogroll; you could visit her there if you’d like. Thank you, bigapple!