The Tiger’s Bookshelf: Put a Poem in Your Pocket!

Tuesday, April 15th, 2008

The Tale of Custard the Dragon

Thursday, April 17, marks the observance of the very first National Poem in Your Pocket Day, when poetry lovers are urged to put a copy of their favorite poem in their pocket and read it aloud to willing listeners–and listen to them read their favorite poems in turn.

Originating in New York City, Put a Poem in Your Pocket Day has been celebrated city-wide in April since 2002, sending New Yorkers to parks and bookstores to read poems aloud, with even the mayor reading a poem over the radio. This year it’s a nation-wide festival, a day to celebrate the pleasures of poetry.

It’s an exciting thought that across the United States, schools, libraries, workplaces, coffee shops and sidewalks could be filled with the sounds of people reading poems aloud. Children may find poems tucked in their lunch bags, waitstaff in restaurants may be handed a poem as well as a tip, and sidewalk chalk could turn a public playground into a bouquet of poetry.

A store in my neighborhood is giving away copies of a favorite poem for customers to put in their pockets on Thursday, and I’m happily choosing which poem I will read to my favorite four-year-old. It’s not an easy choice, but it’s so much fun searching for the one that will be just right. I’m almost certain that it will be Ogden Nash’s The Tale of Custard the Dragon, which has delighted small children of my acquaintance for decades–as it still does me.

Next year I plan to have a poetry party on April 17, with food inspired by sonnets and sestinas, lots of reading aloud, and ending it with tying poems to the strings of balloons, sending them aloft, and setting them free. Come to think of it, I’m not sure I can wait a whole year before doing that–poetry potluck, anyone?

Books at Bedtime: Dragons' roars… or not!

Saturday, June 16th, 2007

For the last three years, our six-year-old has regaled us with stories about his Dragon House, a mythical universe where anything and everything does happen. The only consistent factor has been that it is only inhabited by dragons and him. monkeywaterdragon.jpgTherefore, as you can imagine, dragons figure large in our reading and it is a great theme for discovering stories from far away. This week we’ve pulled out Monkey and the Water Dragon, as Son Number One’s school topic at the moment is water… This retelling of an excerpt from the epic journey of Monkey, Pigsy and Tripitaka is written and illustrated by Joanna Troughton, and is one of Puffin’s “Folk Tales of the World” series (I think it’s time these were all pulled together and reprinted as an anthology – hint, hint!). The dragon is actually a baddy who turns out to be a “golden fish” with delusions of grandeur – but that doesn’t seem to bother my two. The dragon roars and the pictures leap from the page. That’s what matters!

Then there are stories like The Day the Dragon Danced by Kay Haugaard and illustrated by Carolyn Reed Barritt (Shen’s Books, 2006) which make my children long to join in a Chinese New Year procession; but we still haven’t read Mei Ming and the Dragon’s Daughter or The Dragon’s Pearl, which are both recommended by Andrea Ross in her Personal View for PaperTigers… (more…)