Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Poetry for Young People: Robert Frost

Poetry for Young People: Robert Frost

Edited by Gary D. Schmidt
Illustrator:  Henri Sorensen 
Poetry Picture Book
For ages 9 and up
Sterling, 2008   ISBN: 978-1402754753

Robert Frost and his poems are often associated with New England, snow, stone walls, and white birches. What many people don’t know is that he did not start life living in this part of the United States. Robert was born in San Francisco and lived in California until his father died in 1885. Not having any money, Robert’s mother moved her family to Massachusetts, where she lived with her father-in-law for a while. Then she managed to get a teaching job in Salem, New Hampshire. A teacher’s pay was not enough to provide for three people, so Robert worked at a cobbler’s shop where he nailed heels onto boots.

Robert did well in school, and was delighted when his grandfather made it possible for him to attend Laurence High School. Robert did very well there and was able to get into Dartmouth College, which was something his grandfather wanted. However, Robert was not interested in attending college and he dropped out. What Robert did want to do was to write poetry, and this is what he did when he wasn’t working. Though he dreamed of being a recognized poet, he never imagined, back in those early days, that one day he would win awards and would read one of his poems at a presidential inauguration ceremony. What was it about Robert’s poems that made them so popular during his lifetime and beyond?

In this superb collection some of Robert Frost’s most beloved poems are brought together so that young (and not so young) readers can see for themselves why his poems are liked by so many people around the world. The poems are divided up into four sections, one section for each of the seasons, and we begin with summer. Many of the poems celebrate country life and nature. In The Pasture, the narrator invites us to “come too” when he goes to clean the pasture spring, and when he fetches a little calf. In another poem he takes us out into a hayfield where he is turning the drying grass that has been cut for hay. The job is a tedious one until the worker’s eye catches the movement of a butterfly. The little insect shows the worker something special and they are united in that moment.

On the section of Autumn poems, we hear from a little bluebird who leaves a message for a girl called Lesley. The bluebird has felt the cold touch of the north wind and he must fly south. Perhaps, “in the spring” he will come “back and sing.” We read about falling leaves that “fit the earth like a leather glove,” and join someone who has been picking apples and is ready for the rest that winter offers.

Every poem in this collection is accompanied by lovely and evocative paintings, and each one has a note from the editor that provides readers with background information about Robert Forest, his poems, and his style of writing. The combination of the poems, the art, and the notes gives readers an excellent portrait of Robert Frost and his work.

At the beginning of the book there is a short introduction written by the editor where readers will find an excellent description of Robert Frost’s life and legacy.