Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Magical Book of Poems

If your kids are like mine, they love anything to do with magic, witches and wizards. I love sharing the magic of poetry with them, so what better way to do that and feed their desire for the mystical than with Magic Poems, compiled by John Foster and illustrated by the award winning Korky Paul. This collection of 18 poems deals with all things magical and humorous, from the legend of Quickspell the Wizard (by Jack Ousby), to the story of A Very Modern Witch (by Charles Thomson) with a souped-up broom, you'll enjoy the funny along with the fantastic. Other poems in the collection include:
  • Where Goblins Dwell, a celebration of imagintion by the legendary Jack Prelutsky
  • Harry Hobgoblin's Superstore, by David Harmer that describes a shop I'd love to check out
  • Willy the Wizard's Shopping Trip, by Paul Cookson, which imagines what the chain stores of the wizarding world might be
  • Dinner on Elm Street, by Michaela Morgan, a jab at school lunches that shows the lunch lady in the same vein as the Three Witches from Macbeth
  • The Ballad of the Waterbed by Max Fatchen tells the tale of a piratical boy and his nightly adventures
  • The Marvellous Trousers by Richard Edwards is the story of a magical pair of pants the adventures they gave the one who found them. These are some real traveling pants.
  • The Magician, by Gareth Owen recounts an unfortunate mishap involving a little girl's party, a father palying magician and a disappearing box
  • Maxo, the Magician, by Richard Edwards is a funny story of the revenge of a magician's hat
  • Miranda, the Queen of the Air by Doug MacLeod is the tragic story of Miranda and a levitating panda
  • Wanted--A Witch's Cat by Shelagh McGee is an ad that a witch might place in the paper for a proper familiar
  • Genie by Trevor Millum is a tale of mistaken identity
  • Sir Guy and the Enchanted Princess by David Harmer is one of my personal favorites, tells the tale of a knight in not so shining armor and a princess who rides off alone into the night
  • Mang, Katon, and the Crocodile King by Jennifer Tweedie is a heroic tale of the defeat of a the Crocodile King. It's cute by very hard to read aloud in my experience.
  • Dreaming the Unicorn by Tony Mitton is a lovely celebration of dreams
  • The Moon's Magic by Andrew Collet is a tale of the magical nature of the moon and the fate that befalls the greedy
  • The Lonely Enchanter by Marian Swinger is a sad story about the distance that power places between those with it and those without
If your kids enjoy this collection, be sure to check out the other anthologies by John Foster in this Oxford University Press Series, including Dinosaur Poems, Monster Poems and Dragon Poems.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Lessons from Mother Earth

I recently shared a lovely picture book with my kids written by Elaine McLeod and illustrated by Colleen Wood called Lessons from Mother Earth. McLeod was born Mayo, Yukon and is a member of the Na-Cho Nyak Dun First Nation. This book tells the story of Tess, a five-year-old girl visiting her grandmother's cabin in the mountains. Grandmother decides to show Tess her "garden," which turns out to consist of the edible plants growing wild in the woods and meadows surrounding her home. They go for a walk with bucket and basket in hand, and Grandmother shows Tess where to find the plants and teaches her the proper way to gather from and respect the land. She explains that the plants are ready for harvesting at different times in the year, and that there is a balance to strike between harvesting too much or too little--too much and the plants won't produce for you again, too little and the plants will eventually wither and die. Grandmother also teaches Tess that she must care for the land which provides for her, never littering and being careful not to trample plants. "If you are careful and thankful, my granddaughter, our garden will care for you. There is plenty for everyone to share if we don't destroy the soil." Grandmother whispers her thanks to Mother Earth as she harvests and explains that her mother taught her about the plants, so we see the passing of the tradition to Tess. In the end, Tess has learned to be thankful for the Earth and all it provides, as well as the wisdom of her grandmother. This is a beautifully illustrated book, full of soft curves, warm and bright colors, and details (such as the many animals which follow and observe Tess and Grandmother as they harvest). Wood has a gift for portraying smiling faces--she gets the light and shadow just right. The story teaches a gentle lesson of respect and appreciation for Earth and the resources that we share with other creatures. It also provides a nice model of native spirituality, with reverance for Mother Earth and the Great Spirit.