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,
“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,
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.