Children's Department Staff
Matthew S. was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and holds degrees from Carleton College and Queen's University Belfast. He is the recipient of numerous awards in Ireland and the United States, and his poetry can be found in such publications as Ellipsis, The Swarthmore Review, Hidden City Quarterly, and The Open Ear. He lives in Manhattan.
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Including classic selections from the likes of Robert Frost, Shel Silverstein, and Robert Louis Stevenson (himself the renowned compiler of A Children's Garden of Verses), Celestine Frost's Great Poems for Grand Children is a collection not just for children, but for adults as well.
Frost divides the book under themed headings - 'Nursery Rhymes, Tongue Twisters & Nonsense Verses', 'My Home', 'Friends & School', and 'True Love', to name only a few - making for easy-access navigation to poetry dealing with issues as far ranging as the scope which makes this anthology so impressive. For readers seeking a first introduction to poetry, Frost includes classics by Dylan Thomas, William Butler Yeats, Walt Whitman, and Shakespeare - along with a range of song lyrics from traditional Chippewa songs to folk songs from South Africa. And for those who long to revisit old favorites from their own childhoods, Silverstein and Langston Hughes do not disappoint. Those already somewhat adept will find Jack Kerouac, Czeslaw Milosz, and other more contemporary poets provide a new and vibrant tone to the classic children's poetry book and remind us that poetry is not just fancy language or pretty rhymes, but real and present in our own Twenty-first Century world. Brian Cronin's illustrations, though few and far between, engage well with the poems with which they are matched; and while one may wish more had been included, one cannot complain of them getting in the way.
The sheer breadth of Frost's coverage makes up for errors such as the stanza formatting of Yeats' 'The Lake Isle of Inisfree'; and while one may easily contest her decision to include the Gettysburg address and Chief Plenty Coups' 'Farewell Address' of 1909 in a poetry anthology, one can just as easily recognize her rhetorically-based reasons for doing so. The conspicuous presence of material previously overlooked by children's anthologizers - such as poems by Wallace Stevens, lyrics by Woody Guthrie, and Shakespeare’s sonnets (without modernized or dumbed-down English-to-English translation) - is not only refreshing, but also speaks to an inherent respect for the nuance of poetry, as well as for its readers. Indeed, poets like Emily Dickinson and Marianne Moore are characteristically both simple and complex, accessible on multiple planes, and are well represented by the present collection.
All in all, Great Poems for Grand Children is for anyone, young or old, looking for a thorough compendium of great poems, to share with their children, their grandchildren, or just to curl up with by themselves.