Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Here Is a Poem About...#1 (Part 2)

Alkelda, you asked for a poem that I would like to hear set to music.

A Great Poetry Video with Songs
First, let me suggest you check to see if a library in your area has a copy of the video/DVD/CD of ANTARCTIC ANTICS based on the fabulous book of penguin poems written by Judy Sierra. (I have a review of the video in my Singing and Swinging with Children’s Poetry post at Blue Rose Girls.) It is an absolutely delightful video in which most of the poems have been put to catchy melodies. The songs are infectious—even for adults!

Poems for Alkelda
One poem that my second grade students and I used to love to recite while snapping our fingers and “semi-singing” is Douglas Florian’s The Daddy Longlegs, which is included in his book INSECTLOPEDIA, one of my favorite collections of animal poems.

The poem begins:

O Daddy
Daddy O
How’d you get
Those legs to grow
So very long
And lean in size?

My students really enjoyed reciting that poem. In fact, one boy liked it so much that he wrote a poem modeled after it for his dad for Father’s Day. As best I can recall, his poem began like this:

O Daddy
Daddy O
You’re the best
Dad I know
Tall and thin…

Where to Find the Poem

Written & illustrated by Douglas Florian
Harcourt Brace, 1998

Written & illustrated by Douglas Florian
Harcourt, 2004

Another poem that I think would be fun to sing is David McCord’s Bananas and Cream. This is how the poem begins:

Bananas and cream,
Bananas and cream:
All we could say was
Bananas and cream.

We couldn’t say fruit,
We wouldn’t say cow,
We didn’t say sugar—
We don’t say it now.

It ends like this:

Bananas and cream,
Bananas and cream?
We yelled for bananas,
Bananas and scream!

Where to Find the Poem

Written by David McCord
Little, Brown, 1967

Collected by Jane Yolen & Andrew Fusek Peters
Candlewick, 2007

And yet another poem that I think would be fun set to music is Mary Ann Hoberman’s Hello and Good-by, which begins like this:

Hello and good-by
Hello and good-by

When I’m in a swing
Swinging low and then high,
Good-by to the ground
Hello to the sky.

Mary Ann Hoberman is a master of meter and rhyme. She writes poetry that truly appeals to young children. I think many of her poems would make fine song lyrics. In fact, Hoberman has published a number of books for which she adapted traditional poems as sing-alongs for children: BILL GROGAN'S GOAT, YANKEE DOODLE, MARY HAD A LITTLE LAMB, and others. Check her website for further information about these books.

Where the Poem Can Be Found

Written by Mary Ann Hoberman
Browndeer/Harcourt Brace, 1998

Finally, the poetry anthology SONG AND DANCE includes a few poems that I think would be great to set to music: What Is Jazz? by Mary O’Neill; Birds’ Square Dance by Beverly McLoughland; and Dance by Eve Merriam.

This is how Birds’ Square Dance begins:

Swing your partner
Bluefoot booby

This is how it ends:

Flap your feathers
Curlew, crow
Pipit, tern, and

Where to Find the Poems

Selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins
Simon & Schuster, 1997


Saints and Spinners said...

This is wonderful, Elaine! Thanks so much. If I ever get the setup to make mp3s, I'll post my compositions (with the copyright holders' permission, of course). My favorite way to introduce poetry in programs is to set it to music. I've already got a beginning melody for "The Daddy Longlegs."

If you can ever get your hands on a copy (I could make a cassette recording for you), check out The Simon Sisters Sing for Children. They had a hit song with "Wynken, Blynken & Nod" (covered by both the Doobie Brothers and Ted Jacobs), but I'm particularly fond of Lewis Caroll's "The Lobster Quadrille" and William Jay Smith's "Pavane for the Nursery." The latter song was sung at my wedding.

Again, thanks so much for this post! I'm going to link it from my blog.

Saints and Spinners said...

P.S. I agree with you about Hoberman's books being great for setting to music. I can't help but sing "A House is a House for Me," though it often slips into "Tomorrow Belongs to Me" from Cabaret.:(

Elaine Magliaro said...


When I was still teaching and "librarianing" I often found myself singing rhyming poems or parts of picture books that were written in verse after I had shared them with a group of children.

Two other poets who have written poems that may lend themselves well to music are Aileen Fisher and Karla Kuskin. Fisher's poetry is rhythmic and rhyming and much of Kuskin's poetry is bouncy and energetic. Another poem I'll recommend is Kuskin's "Rules"--which can be found in her books MOON, HAVE YOU MET MY MOTHER? and DOGS & DRAGONS, TREES & DREAMS.

The poem begins:

Do not jump on ancient uncles.
Do not yell at average mice.
Do not wear a broom to breakfast.
Do not ask a snake's advice.

Andromeda Jazmon said...

You are doing such a fantastic job of putting this posts together. The poems, the book suggestions, the links... you are fabulous!

gail said...

So glad you posted the link to Hoberman's site. She has written soooo many books! I'm going to have to look at more of them. We (me and my son when he was little) used to read "Seven Silly Eaters' over and over. Such a cute story. And wonderful illustrations by Marla Frazee too!