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on January 7, 2003
I remember reading this collection of poems when I was a little kid. My dad bought it for me and we'd read the poems together before I went to bed. Stevenson seemed to have a good understanding of how to talk to a child("Bed in Summer" was a favorite!).
I've given copies of this book to a niece and a friend for her young daughter. It's certainly a book that should be part of any child's library.
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I have mixed opinions of this collection of poems. I read this aloud to my older son several years ago and he loved the poems, he even memorized several of them. He especially had fun memorizing My Shadow. I've just now finished reading it to my 8yo and have to say he was not impressed. We read a two-page spread every school day as part of our homeschool. Though the poems are written for children, they are written for Victorian children and the 8yo didn't understand half of the words used so we spent a lot of time discussing what each poem was really about and how it applied to things he would recognize in his life today. Sometime he'd think the poem was OK and he didn't dread me reading it but mostly he just thought they were boring. Myself, there are several of the popular poems that I think are wonderful: Bed in Summer, My Shadow, and Picture Books in Winter especially. Some others I'd rather do without.

This edition is particularly nice as it is profusely illustrated with sometimes several pictures per poem by contemporary children's book artists of the time such as Jessie Wilcox Smith and C.M. Burd along with a host of others. I just love the illustrations and could pull this book off the shelf and just browse through it for pure enjoyment. The 8yo though did not appreciate the old-fashioned pictures especially when he couldn't tell the boys from the girls. However, this is poetry I think every child should be exposed to, some will enjoy, others will not. For one, my son will forever remember the name "Robert Louis Stevenson".
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on April 19, 2001
This review is of the Chronicle Books edition (ISBN 0877016089).
First published in 1885, Stevenson's marvellous collection of children's poetry has never gone out of print, and remains near the top of numerous "best book's for childen" lists. For example, Maurice Sendak, when asked to list books that he thought every child should have the opportunity to read, named this collection first. Harold Bloom, renowned literary critic (he has received more major awards from his peers than any other) and author of the thought-provoking and controversial "The Western Canon", included ACGoV in the list he furnished in response to an interviewer's request for a "Western Canon, Jr". Among the homeschooling set, everyone from "Unschoolers" to "Classical Christian Educators" recommend it.(It"s on the Classical Christian Support Loop's "1000 Good Books List").
The Chronical Books edition, containing all 64 of the poems that appeared in the original 1885 edition, is lavishly illustrated with more than a hundred pictures, many of them full page, by several of the most distinguished children's book illustrators of the late 19th and early 20th century. The book is well laid out, with a pleasing juxtaposition of art and text, and printed on high-quality paper. It was named one of the "Top Ten Picturebooks of the Year" by Redbook, was an American Bookseller "Pick of the Lists" in 1989, and was given a starred review in Booklist.
Stevenson perfectly captures the child's world of sunshine, stars, dreams, toy boats, swings, apple tarts, fairies, flowers, and far-away places in simple, evocative language which remains just as accessable for today's children as it was for their grandparents. And I can think of only one poem that might offend modern "Politically Correct" sensibilities: "Foreign Children", wherein the speaker imagines asking various nationalities' children "O! don't you wish that you were me!" I guess the historical and socio-cultural context of this poem could be discussed with your child if you were so inclined.
In short, this venerated work, and especially this glorious Chronical Books edition of it, belongs in every child's library. No other volume of children's poetry has been so well loved by so many generations. ...
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on February 20, 2001
Poems are perfectly chosen words which are a pleasure to read. Writing them is a true art and Robert Louis Stevenson is able to perfect this art by remembering his own childhood. These poems were written between 1881 and 1884.
This is a selection from the most popular collection of poems about childhood in the English language. Each poem is accompanied by evocative paintings, which are as vibrant as the words in each poem.
The paintings are impressions of color and light and show children and a few animals on beautiful canvases of cities, gardens, meadows and seas. The poems are about flying kites, cows which give cream to enjoy with apple-tart, flowers where fairies live, children sitting in the warm sun, children on a swing, children playing with toy boats and children playing in gardens who will never grow up as they are frozen in time in the beautiful pictures. Here is an example of part of the first poem in the book.
I saw you toss the kites on high
And blow the birds about the sky;
And all around I heard you pass,
Like ladies skirts across the grass-
What lovely poems to share with a child. Highly recommended!
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on April 12, 2000
Everyone knows Robert Louis Stevenson; everyone has at least one of the myriad books of his poetry. There are some stunningly illustrated collections of his poetry out now, notably two by Thomas Kincaide, among others. But how many of us have actually read all or most of his work? I'm guilty as charged.
This smaller, quieter version of Stevenson's poetry helped me finally, actually read all the Garden poetry. True, the illustrations are spare, but delightfully accurate. My children (7 and 10) were not as mesmerized by this book as they are by others with fanciful graphics, illustrations and larger type to accompany the poetry.
Still, this small book found its way into my purse to be used for waiting moments, e.g. at the orthodontist, doctor, and also to my bedside, where it's shear diminutive size did not dissuade me from reading "for only a minute or two." And within Stevenson's words and language lie the ferment of creative pictures. I liked to have my children close their eyes while I read short poems to 'force' them to use only their mind's eye.
I thoroughly enjoyed the adventures, moods, and images Stevenson conjures and at long last can understand why his poetry remains so classic.
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on October 17, 2000
When I was younger, well 5 actually, I had the chicken pox. This was one of my mom's favorite books. The words in the poetry just soothed me. It seemed like the author, Robert Louis Stevenson, knew exactly what I was going through.
You can't forget about the little toy soldiers (a poem) at your feet because when you are sick for days, you can imagine all kinds of things in your mind. The curtains billow like sails, the bedpost is your anchor. I sat there in bed and just floated away with the fun of having someone to share my illness. It seemed like a had a friend right there with me.
I loved the pictures too. The little kids are old fashioned and it made me laugh because the boys wore silly clothes, but they fit the time period, my mom said.
I love this book and keep it by my bed when I need to be relaxed.
Hayley Cohen
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on April 8, 1999
(That "one star" is for this edition only.) The [1994?] Penguin Classics reissue of this title, which I purchased from Amazon last year, is incomplete. It omits the fourth and last verse of the poem "Marching Song." I don't know if there are any other omissions. So buy some other edition. And while you're at it, pick up a copy of three-time U.S. National Scottish Fiddling champion Bonnie Rideout's newest award-winning CD, titled "Gimme Elbow Room," billed as a child's introduction to Scottish music, but charming and entertaining for all ages. Stevenson's verses, Mother Goose, and quite a few clever surprises. Also available here from Amazon is her "Celtic Circles," the most beautiful album that I own. Buy it too! And "A Scottish Christmas" as well.
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on September 18, 2000
I ordered this edition because the review said it had beautiful color illustrations - This book is in black and white - there is no color and it's very small - only around 6 inches tall _ I am sending it back - how very misleading! This was supposed to be a gift - I am very disappointed!.
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on November 21, 2001
This is a very lovely edition of Stevenson's "A Child's Garden of Verses." The paintings illustrating each poem are well chosen and quite beautiful. The print quality is also excellent. However, I was a little disappointed to see this selection not include some of my favorite poems from Stevenson's work, most notably "The Pleasant Land of Counterpane." What is included is exceptionally well done, but this is not the complete Garden of Verses.
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on April 23, 2000
I remember this book from my childhood. The poems are so bright and cheerful and most of them are short and easy to read. The illustrations are very simple and do not over power the verses. I especially have very vivid memories of the illustrations for the poem The Brownies Circus. These brownies had elongated bodies and were able to anything that a human performer could. Overall I rate this book as an excellent choice to catch the fancy of young readers.
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