We are always on the lookout for good books to read out to our younger five-year-old. One Sunday afternoon, we found ourselves at the Crossword bookshop. Almost all the books could be bought online, cheaper. Where, oh where could we walk the aisles, linger over books and hold them in our hands in an online store? The children were soon doing quick walks between aisles confused about what to buy. Roald Dahl or Thea Stilton? A talking doll or a book? It is here I chanced upon the compilation by Tig Thomas The Four Princesses and other poems.
It met almost all my criteria. Large sized, not too heavy for my daughter to hold, good binding, great drawings, meanings of tough words at the end of the page. Laugh all you might, but these are very important or soon you will find sheets are strewn all over the place, or worse still simply untouched because the book is too heavy to be read when put on a little lap. If you are doing the bed-time reading you need a good, flexible bendable book. What really clinched it for me was that it was a book of poems. Poems about sailing, climbing trees and fairies.
At home on closer inspection, I noticed they were not the garden variety of sing-song, rhyming poems but a very diverse collection of well-written poems. The poets included C.J.Dennis, William Allingham, Eugene Fields, Ben Johnson and the bard himself, William Shakespeare. The bard and Johnson I had read about, the others were fairly unknown. Wikipedia shed light on what turned out to be luminaries in the world of literature the world over. Tig Thomas has curated and compiled seventeen poems each different from the other, united only in their delightful stories.
Shakespeares ‘A Witch’s Spell’ will thrill any aspiring young wizard.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the cauldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg, and howlet’s wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
Double, double toil and trouble
Fire burn and cauldron bubble…
Cool it with a baboon’s blood
Now the spell is thick and good.
C.J.Dennis the Australian poet has written a more commonplace, yet equally wonderful ‘The Music of your Voice’.
A vase upon the mantlepiece,
A ship by the sea,
A goat upon the mountain-top
Are much the same to me;
But when you mention melon jam,
Or picnics by the creek,
Or apple pies, or pantomimes,
I love to hear you speak.
Eugene Field’s gem ‘Wynken, Blynken and Nod’ also form part of the collection. William Allingham the Irish poet of ‘The Faeries’ fame is also part of the collection with his poem ‘An Elf Singing’.
The book’s art is colourful and fresh, belying the classics they represent. The Four Princesses and other poems is a great way to introduce a child to poetry and monumental literary minds from around the world. The poems with dragons, fairies, motor cars, boats, sea and trees will regale the young mind and open the doors to many happy hours of make believe.