You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You by John Ciardi

Ciardi, John. Illustrated by Edward Gorey. You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1962.

🙂 🙂 🙂  🙂 🙂

(April is national poetry month, so I decided to check out the poetry collection at the library this month.)

All right, I admit it. I’m a sucker for anything illustrated by Edward Gorey. I will also admit that this collection is not an exhibit of some of his finer illustrations. As a matter of fact, if you’d shown some of them to me without the benefit of knowing they were drawn by him, I would have been hard-pressed to tell you they were, despite the fact that I’m convinced I could spot his distinctive work anywhere. It doesn’t matter, though, because there are plenty of oh-so-magnificent-and-brilliant-examples-of-Edward-Gorey’s-genius to make up for it.

Also, the poems are sheer delight. They bring to mind my favorite “silly” poet Edward Lear, while being wonderful, magical, imaginative, and funny in their own right. I like those who write for children without being afraid to tap into primal fears (being eaten by wild beasts) and not-so-primal fears (a father’s wrath. Then again, maybe that is primal?). Ciardi adeptly makes light of these fears, encouraging children to laugh at them. I also like those who can mix complete nonsense like a poem about the Hoo-hah and the Rinky-dink and the automatic Chugg making themselves a good, cool drink of chocolate mud and lemon ink with complete reality like a father who’s hopeless when it comes to make waffles when Mom is sleeping in.

I wish I knew a first-grader, proud of her reading accomplishments, who would climb into my lap with this book. Every other poem is written in blue, so she can read it aloud to me, while I read the ones in black to her. The blue poems are all composed of words that a first-grader can read, but that doesn’t make them any less fun or meaningful. Even better, imagine a 3-year-old who sits on your lap while you read this book to him. At 4, he still delights in dragging it from the shelf. At 5, he begs you to read again before going to bed. Finally, at 6, he delights in reading every other poem to you.

What fun! Anyone want to lend me a six-year-old? Or a three-year-old?