This book was given as a gift to my daughter when she was young, and it is probably the most beautiful board book in our collection.
It contains a number of Stevenson's most famous poems for children: The Land of Counterpane, The Lamplighter, Happy Thought, Foreign Lands, The Cow, My Shadow, The Swing, and My Bed is a Boat. These poems are all lovely, but the nicest thing about this book is the illustrations, which are all from the early 1900s and very charming.
All in all, if you are looking for an attractive board book (or a nostalgic one) to make a nice gift for a new baby or for a very young child, I would highly recommend this book.
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.
on July 9, 2002
This classic edition of Robert Louis Stevenson's "A Child's Garden of Verses" is justly famed because it so beautifully pairs Stevenson's sometimes exuberant, sometimes melancholy poems on childhood with the extraordinary illustrations of Tasha Tudor.
Tudor's delicate watercolors complement Stevenson's work almost to the point that you think the two, living in different centuries, must share some time-travel telepathy with each other. All the classic Stevenson pieces are here: "The Swing," "The Land of Counterpane," the terrific poem about a child's shadow. Tudor depicts only children and animals herein--as it should be--without the presence of shadow of adults anywhere. Both Stevenson and Tudor understand in their bones that no matter what grown-ups may think, children inhabit a world of their own. That world is mostly beautiful, but sometimes fraught with danger or questions. Those hints are present here, but the overwhelming impression any reader will have will be that of beauty--both in words and in pictures.
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. ...
on June 16, 2000
Like many others, I first read these poems as a very young child. I didn't realise until rereading them just recently how many of them had stayed with me. The poems all deal with sounds, sights and emotions that will be familiar to most young children. And as an adult, the poetry of Robert Louis Stevenson brings back that sense of wonder and amazement that many of us lose as we grow older. One of the poems that I will always remember deals with how difficult it is to go to bed when you are told in the summer when the days are long and the sun is still out. who doesn't remember this?
The illustrations in this particular edition, by Tasha Tudor, capture perfectly the childhood world of the poetry--the imagination in play is wonderfully portrayed. Remember when the space under the table became a cave, or a castle, or a spaceship? These poems and the accompanying illustrations deal with these imaginary adventures that all children share in.
Purchase this book and share it with other adults and with the children in your life. If it stays with you for the rest of your life, then you have gained a treasure.
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.
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!
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".
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.
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.