Poetry Friday: See Saw Saskatchewan

See Saw Saskatchewan is a children’s collection of poems about Canada by Robert Heidbreder, illustrated by Scot Ritchie (Kids Can Press, 2003.)  I found out about this delightful book from librarian Sue Fisher’s blog, Mousetraps and the Moon.  For National Poetry Month which was April, Sue featured various  children’s poetry books on her blog.

See Saw Saskatchewan is a playful collection of poems  that can be skipped to, ball-bounced to, or clapped to.  The poems are about life in Canada in various locations featuring activities, or animals, or sights particular to the locale.  There’s definitely a touch of Dennis Lee in these poems that’s detectable in such poems that play on Canadian place names like in  ‘Niagara Falls’:

Kapuskasing sings
Cornwall calls
Thunder Bay storms,
And Niagara
FALLS!

In fact there are a lot of playful references to famous children’s rhymes which you can tell by the titles of some of the poems like ‘Pick a peck of P.E.I.’ or ‘Take Toronto by the Toe’.  I had to laugh at the poem referring to my home city of Winnipeg: ‘Winnipeg Mosquitoes’. Yes, we do often have them and in enough abundance, to make them poetry-worthy! There’s a cute illustration of two besotted mosquitoes sucking blood out of a finger, which vaguely reminded me of a line from John Donne’s ‘The Flea’ — “wherein two bloods mingled be” — except in this case it’s the reverse with the blood of one Canadian ‘mingled’ into two lovelorn mosquitoes! Now if that isn’t an image of Canadian love, I don’t know what is.

Do you know of any good poetry books that celebrate your locale? Or play with the funny names of your towns and cities? In Canada, we have some great place names like Moose Jaw and Nipissing, Tumbler Ridge and Nanaimo. See Saw Saskatchewan does a nice job of making Canada a fun place to read about with its delightful poems set all over the land.

This week’s Poetry Friday is hosted by jama at jama rattigan’s alphabet soup.


8 Responses to “Poetry Friday: See Saw Saskatchewan”

  1. Sue Fisher Says:

    Thanks for the link, Sally. As for your question, a researcher and I recently stumbled upon a poetry book published in 1928 by New Brunswicker, Grace Helen Mowat called Funny Fables of Fundy. It doesn’t play with place names ala Heidbreder but it is a delightful, children’s poetry book from our small region.

  2. Sally Says:

    Hi Sue! Enjoyed perusing your blog for the great book suggestions it offered. Especially the Canadian stuff!

  3. tanita Says:

    This sounds like good fun – I love the names of the places in Canada. A picture book about Moose Jaw and how it got its name would be a hoot.

  4. Aline Says:

    Believe it or not, I can’t find any poetry book or poems about San Francisco… but since you mentioned Saskatchewan, I just a read a review of “I Know Here”, a picture book by Laurel Croza (Groundwood, 2010) about a girl who, upon learning her family will be moving from Saskatchewan to Toronto, starts drawing her house, the people she knows and her surroundings as a way to make sure she’ll remember them. It’s not poetry, but it sounds poetic : )

  5. Book Chook Says:

    You’ve reminded me of a book I owned called Alligator Pie, by Canadian poet, Dennis Lee. I don’t have it anymore, but I am sure it had rhymes that used towns like Kamloops etc. My students loved this book, to listen to, to chant with great enthusiasm, and to read.

  6. Sally Says:

    Tanita, I do wonder why no one has yet written a picture book about Moose Jaw — it could very well be fancifully illustrated! And yes, Aline, I read the same review for the book and would love to get a copy of it. And yes, Dennis’ Lee’s Alligator Pie does indeed make reference to place names in Canada including Kamloops which is another great name for a town.

  7. Marjorie Says:

    I grew up in the Lake District so Wordsworth and Beatrix Poter (she wrote rhymes too, so I count her in :-) ) were part of my scenery. I know Daffodils has become a cliche but I still recite it to myself every year – especially as near where I now live in North Yorkshire, on the other side of the country, there is Farndale, famed for the small, native daffs…