Thursday, November 11, 2010

13th November Robert Louis Stevenson (1850 - 1894) Jez Alborough (1959)

Happy Thought
by Robert Louis Stevenson

The world is so full of a number of things,
I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings.

While this seems very simplistic now to me as an adult, and very much a product of the time and place of Robert Louis Stevenson's birth, I still remember many of the verses from A Child's Garden of Verses with great fondness and this one in particular when I am feeling sorry for myself. Nowadays we probably remember Stevenson more for Treasure Island; Kidnapped and Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde but for the very young he wrote poetry and I still share some favourites with children I teach. We have a lovely illustrated picture book of his poem My Shadow, which is illustrated by Penny Dale, Bed in Summer is always good for a discussion about daylight saving and Where Go the Boats? for when discussing rivers, currents and the loss of toy boats.

You might think that Jez Alborough is far removed from Robert Louis Stevenson, but he too writes poetry. He has published many books written in verse and the poetry anthology Guess What Happened at School Today? On his website he says that "as a child I loved the poems of A.A.Milne. I remember reading Wheezles and Sneezles for the first time and thinking: this is brilliant. I love the way he used words. When I think about how I use rhythm and rhyme it makes sense to me now. He was like a beacon shining the light on a path."Jez Alborough has the added talent of also being able to illustrate his own books. His duck series which began with Duck in a Truck is enthralling to young children because it is written in verse. His series about Eddy and Bear is too. The favourite of all of Jez's books in my library though, continues to be Cuddly Dudley, the story of a penguin who just wants some time to himself away from the huddle of other penguins!

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