Friday, April 5, 2013

Poetry Friday - A review of A Stick is an Excellent Thing

When I was a kid my parents had a hard time getting me to come indoors. As long as it wasn't blistering hot or pouring with rain, I preferred to be outside. These days many kids have to be pushed to go outside. Too many of them prefer to be entertained than to entertain themselves. Today's book celebrates the many ways in which children can and do spend their time when they are outdoors. The author shows to great effect that outdoor play is magical and wonderful.

Marilyn Singer
Illustrated by LeUyen Pham
Poetry Picture Book
For ages 7 to 10
Clarion Books, 2012, 978-0-547-12493-3
Many children associate the word “playing” with TV screens, computer monitors, and hand held gaming devices. They no longer equate playing with being outdoors. Thankfully, many people, including parents and teachers, are eager to get children outside again so that they can have a more active lifestyle that encourages them to interact with other children.
   In this splendid collection of poems Marilyn Singer celebrates a wide variety of outdoor activities. Some of the poems describe are games such as hopscotch and monkey in the middl;e. In the poem Hide-And-Seek we hear from the hider, who stands “here oh so still” pretending that he is in Brazil “where lots of birds fly free.” Then we hear from the little girl seeker who is convinced that the hider hasn’t “got a prayer” because she’s “just too good at seeking.”
   Other poems look at doings that are less ordered and more free-flowing. Playing in the sprinkler is just such an activity. We see how children use their imaginations so that a stick can be a scepter or a magic wand. Even a bucket can be the center of interest when becomes a pot for making soup. Children toss grass, stones, mud, cheese, a celery stalk, an old cigar, and a piece of chalk into the pot, give it a stir, and “then throw it out and start again.”
   With wonderful poems that are paired with vibrant illustrations, this book perfectly captures the joy that children experience when they spend time outdoors playing in the sun or under the stars.

No comments: