Eating Humble Alligator Pie, and Some Poetry Recommendations

Sunday May 19, 2013

Last week, Open Book Toronto posted an article in which Canadian author Susan Hughes worried about the lack of poetry being published for kids. As she says:
"Sure, poetry for all ages suffers from a small readership, in Canada or any country, but I have this sense that kids' poetry books had a heyday in Canada — maybe 30 or 40 years ago, when Dennis Lee's Alligator Pie was first published — and since then have declined in number.
Probably books of poetry for kids just don't generate the sales necessary to make them viable. But why is that? Why don't we buy Canadian poetry for our kids to read?"
Hughes also got a publisher, an editor, an author, and a teacher-librarian to weigh in, and the article makes for an interesting read. It's also a great place to find the names of some recently published poetry books worth a look!

Image of an alligator staring at the camera.
"You'd better be planning on feeding me pie..."
Photo © Marilyn Anne Campbell

My Great Canadian Confession

Before this blog post goes any further, I have to come clean about something...

Even though I absolutely love ridiculous rhymes; even though I'm currently writing a rhyming play for kids; even though I claim to be a lover of both Canada AND kid lit...

I didn't read Alligator Pie until I was in my thirties.

At least, I don't think I did. If I ever did read Dennis Lee's classic as a kid, I don't remember it. Which would be even worse (I did, however, own extensive Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein collections).

But I finally got caught up on Lee's many books of poetry last year after Steve and I went to see Soulpepper Theatre's stage show Alligator Pie, and absolutely loved it.

The Recommendations

So along with the books recommended in Hughes' article, I recommend that kids' poetry lovers in the Toronto area go and see how some of Lee's poems were adapted to the stage for Alligator Pie, which Soulpepper is remounting in November 2013

Also, for slightly older kids (8+), the 2008 book Zorgamazoo is a fantasy/adventure by Robert Paul Weston which is written entirely in verse! I loved this book, and it was very hard not to read it aloud no matter where I was. Here's a little taste, as read by Alan Cumming:

So do you have a favourite book of poems for kids, new or old?


  1. My mum gave me a collection of Emily Dickinson when I was a kid - I still love it. :) I'm Nobody, Who Are You? is one of my favourites.

    Beege has read everything by Shel Silverstein that she can get her hands on.


Post a Comment