Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Everybody Was a Baby Once: and Other Poems

Everybody Was a Baby Once: and Other Poems

Allan Ahlberg
Illustrator:  Bruce Ingman 
Poetry
For ages 2 to 4
Candlewick Press, 2010   ISBN: 978-0763646820

Poetry can enrich the lives of readers of all ages, but all too often older children and adults are reluctant to explore the world of poetry because they think that poetry is not for them. Thankfully, young children are more open to receiving the gift of poetry. Indeed, they often embrace the world of poems and have a natural affinity for them.

In this splendid book young children will encounter a collection of poems that will beautifully resonate with their interests, their sense of humor, and their love of stories. For example, in When I was a Little Child they will ‘meet’ a child who tells them what life was like when he was young. When you are small the world you interact with is very different because of your size and because so much of what you see and experience is new and exciting. A bath is “like the sea” and a high chair is a “mighty tower.” Stairs seem to go to “mountaintops” and a father is “like a tree.”

As they explore this book children will encounter some poems that provide them with information. They learn what to do if they meet a witch, and what monsters like to eat. For example at breakfast time monsters munch on “Tadpole toasties” and “Dreaded wheat,” and for dinner they have “moldy greens” and “Human beans.” Knowing such important facts about monsters is vital for one’s education after all.

There are also story poems of all kinds that will surely amuse little children and their grownups. Who can resist a story about how snowmen used to be “In the good old days / When snow was snow,” and the one about a soccer match that took place between two teams of animals, with elephants on one side and insects on the other. One can only imagine how such a game would turn out.

This is a wonderful book to share with young children. It not only introduces children to the magic of poetry, but it gives adults the opportunity to share some precious, bookish, time with the child or children in their lives.

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