Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Barefoot Book of Classic Poems

The Barefoot Book of Classic Poems

Illustrator:  Jackie Morris 
Poetry Picture Book
For ages 7 and up
Barefoot Books, 2006   ISBN: 1905236565

There are certain poems that people today consider to be “classic.” What makes a poem a classic anyway? Carol Ann Duffy, who wrote the introduction to this book, feels that the classic poems chosen for this collection are ones that “continue to shine brightly in the English language.” Such is the nature of something that is a classic. It is timeless and still resonates with people today, even though it was written in a different time and place.

   Though this collection was put together for children, adults will also enjoy being able to “rediscover” poems that they knew when they were young, and perhaps meet poems that are new to them as well. The poems will provide and adults and children with connecting point that they can share.

   What makes this collection truly special is that Jackie Morris has chosen poems that explore a wide variety of emotions and experiences. Lilian Moore’s poem, Until I saw the sea tells the story of what it was like when she saw the sea for the first time. She is amazed to discover that the wind can “wrinkle” water, and that the sea “breathes in and out / upon the shore.” Though the poem is short and spare, the poet captures the awe and wonder she felt on seeing the sea.

   Some of the poems describe animals, both real and imagined, while others tell the stories of amonster, a brave knight, a cowardly dragon, a pair of unusual lovers, and more.

   The poems also capture special moments, freezing them for all time so that they can be enjoyed again and again. In Daffodils we read about how the writer “wandered lonely as a cloud” until he saw a “host, of golden daffodils,” and the memory of this sight later warms him again and again when he is in a “vacant or pensive mood.”

   Throughout the book the poems are paired with Jackie Morris’ gorgeous illustrations that give the poems another layer of emotion and meaning.