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The Eric Carle Museum
of Picture Book Art
  • 125 West Bay Road
  • Amherst, MA 01002

Hours

  • Thursday, Friday10 am-3 pm
  • Saturday 10am – 4 pm
  • Sunday 12 pm - 4 pm

Closed Monday,Tuesday, Wednesday

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Picture Books We Love

Poetry: The Other Baby Gift

Surrounded by picture storybooks and chewable board books, poetry anthologies can go overlooked. That's why I recommend poetry to gift-givers who hope to avoid giving a book the young family may already own. The first book I pull from the poetry section is always bright, oversized Read-Aloud Rhymes For The Very Young, featuring poems selected by Jack Prelutsky---the nation's Children's Poet Laureate---and illustrated by Marc Brown, of Arthur fame. This book was published in 1986, and I used it a lot with my own kids (born 1987 and 1988). So, I know exactly which page to flip open to find---amid the bubbly blue pictures of fish and scuba-divers---this poem: Fish Look at them flit Lickety-split Wiggling Swiggling Swerving Curving Hurrying Scurrying Chasing Racing Whizzing Whisking Flying Frisking Tearing around With a leap and a bound But none of them making the tiniest tiniest tiniest tiniest sound. ---Mary Ann Hoberman Great rhythm, fun vocabulary, and---most importantly---stimulating to the parent as well as the baby. I used to get sleepy reading a picture book for the 499th time, but I got the same jolt no matter how often I zipped through a reading of Fish. (I vary the speed: that's the fun of repetition.) And I never got tired of this book. (Well, as far as I can remember.) The other anthology I recommend for young families is This Little Piggy And Other Rhymes To Sing And Play, edited by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Will Hillenbrand, with musical arrangements by Adam Stemple. (A music CD is included with the book.) While most of us remember some finger-plays from our own childhood---I'm a Little Teapot, The Eensy Weensy Spider, Patty-Cake Patty-Cake---this book includes dozens more, as well as unusual variants of the familiar ones. The large type-face and the width of the book---which helps the pages lie open flat---ensures that grandparents and beginning readers will be comfortable using it. And the fascinating historical notes create an enveloping sense of cultural continuity. About Goosey, Goosey, Gander, we learn: "Originally a rhyme called Old Father Long-Legs about the insect daddy longlegs, this British verse has migrated into a rhyme about a goose. According to some scholars, it is actually a political rhyme about Cardinal Beaton, who was assassinated in 1546 because of a dispute over prayer books. But in American households it is simply a silly lifting and lowering game." This, in italics at the top of the page. Next comes the rhyme itself, in large type, accompanied by an image of a goose at the top of stairs climbing into a canopy bed. Finally at the bottom of the page we read "To play: Start with the child on your lap, but lift the child to wander up and down and back into your lap for the lady's chamber. Do not actually lift the child by the left leg!" (There's so much for young parents to learn.)

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