In which Annie (high school teacher, mother of two young girls and a younger boy) and her aunt Deborah (children's bookseller, mother of two young women in their 20s) discuss children's books and come up with annotated lists.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Poetry in a nutshell

Dear Annie,

I'd like to point out a lovely comment on the movie Hugo that's just been posted here by your father, my brother-in-law.  Testimony to the fascination of great books and movies for both kids and grown-ups.  Thank you, John.

Now on to Nick's question about more poetry, which got me thinking too.  In addition to the book lists you referred to in your post, we went on a roll about poetry back in June of 2010: there were four posts in a row: here, here, here and here.  Don't know if you found all four of them, Nick -- and they're fun to revisit anyway.

So imagine my surprise when I realized we haven't visited Maurice Sendak's
Nutshell Library
.  It's four small rhyming books: Chicken Soup with Rice (about months), Alligators All Around (alphabet), One Was Johnny (numbers), and
Pierre: a cautionary tale
.  They're all delightful, but for the moment I'll stick with Pierre, a boy who responds to all statements -- including his mother's "You are my darling boy/you are my only joy" --  with, "I don't care." When he stands on his head on a chair:
His father said,
"Get off your head, or I will march you up to bed."
Pierre said,
"I don't care!"
"I would think that you could see --"
"I don't care!"
"your head is where your feet should be!"
"I don't care!"
"If you keep standing upside down -- "
"I don't care!"
"We'll never ever get to town."
"I don't care!"
"If only you would say I CARE."
"I don't care!"
"I'd let you fold the folding chair."
"I don't care!"
So his parents left him there.
They didn't take him anywhere.
The parents go, a lion appears, expresses the intention to eat him, with the usual response.  The lion then says, "Then I'll eat you if I may," to which Pierre replies, "I don't care!" and is eaten.  When the parents come home, the lion is abed and they fear the worst.
His mother asked, "Where is Pierre?"
The lion answered, "I don't care!"
His father said, "Pierre's in there!"
The doctor eventually gets a relieved Pierre out, and now, of course, he cares.  It's another Sendak mix of the absurd with intense feeling.  And it's all wrapped up in great rhythms and rhymes.



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