________________ CM . . . . Volume VI Number 2 . . . . September 17, 1999

cover The Macmillan Treasury of Nursery Rhymes and Poems.

Alison Green (Editor). Illustrated by Anna Currey. Forward by Roger McGough.
London, ON: Macmillan Children's Books. (Distributed in Canada by McClelland & Stewart), 1998.
374 pp., cloth, $45.00
ISBN 0-333-74165-X.

Subject Headings:
Nursery rhymes.
Children's poetry.

Preschool - grade 4 / Ages 3 - 9.
Review by Valerie Nielsen.

**** /4

image In the years before children learn to read, they get poetry just as people first got it, through their ears. And, as everyone knows who has shared poetry with little people, they show their enjoyment immediately. "Say (or sing) it again!" they beg, responding to poetry as they do to music, by bouncing, chanting, repeating the rhymes or joining in the actions. In his foreword to The Macmillan Treasury of Nursery Rhymes and Poems, Roger McGough, a well-loved British poet awarded the O.B.E. for services to poetry in 1997, states: "Children's verse has by its very nature a propensity to be read aloud, and so most of the poems you will find here are longing to be set free from the page." As May Hill Arbuthnot points out in the introduction to her wonderful collection of poems for children, Time For Poetry, published in 1952, "If children are to develop a genuine liking for poetry, they must hear quantities of it read aloud from the earliest years." How fortunate for the grown-ups whose duty (and pleasure!) it is to follow Arbuthnot's and McGough's advice that there is someone as knowledgeable and enthusiastic about poetry and children as Alison Green to put together The Macmillan Treasury of Nursery Rhymes and Poems.
     This outstanding anthology of more than three hundred poems, rhymes, chants and songs is divided into 18 sections, beginning with "Poems to Start the Day," moving along with favourite themes, such as "Poems About Food," "Poems for Pets and Friends," "Poems about Families," "Action Rhymes," "Nonsense Poems," "Weather Poems" and finishing off with "Poems for Bedtime." Most of the well-loved poets of children's verse from this century are represented, plus several from the 19th century, with, of course, a substantial sprinkling of selections credited to "Anon." Anna Currey's illustrations are winsome and witty, just right for eliciting a giggle from small listeners. Each poem is beautifully set out, with small drawings at the top of each page to alert readers to the section in which it appears. The Macmillan Treasury of Nursery Rhymes and Poems is a treasure of a book which will give grown-ups and children countless hours of pleasure. It is not possible to have too many collections of this calibre in the poetry section of the school library. Kindergarten and primary teachers will beg to keep this book in their classrooms so that it may be on hand when that inevitable moment-which-calls-for-a-poem comes along.

Highly recommended.

Valerie Nielsen is a retired teacher-librarian living in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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ISSN 1201-9364