Friday, May 18, 2007

POETRY FRIDAY: The Poetry of Mary Ann Hoberman

Any of you who are regular readers of Wild Rose Reader or Blue Rose Girls knows that I have a passion for children’s poetry. I own hundreds of children’s poetry books. I am always looking for out of print books written by children’s poets whose work I admire.

It was indeed a great pleasure for me to meet and get to know Mary Ann Hobeman, one of my favorite children’s poets, two summers ago at a children’s literature conference in Gorham, Maine. After the conference, Mary Ann was kind enough to send me two of her poetry books that have been out of print for quite some time: NUTS TO YOU & NUTS TO ME (published in 1974) and YELLOW BUTTER PURPLE JELLY RED JAM BLACK BREAD (published in 1981).

About Mary Ann Hoberman & Her Poetry

Mary Ann Hoberman is a true master of meter and rhyme. In fact, I would dare to say that most of the poems she has written scan perfectly. Her rhythmic, rhyming poetry is a pleasure to share with young children. Her poetry speaks to the subjects of a young child’s world and a young child’s fancy. She has written poems about all kinds of animals—from the tiny, short-lived Mayfly and many-legged centipede to the giraffe, hippopotamus, and whale. She has also written poems about families and weather and such common childhood experiences as swinging on a swing, playing dress up, roller-skating, celebrating birthdays, and learning to swim.

One of Mary Ann’s poetry books that I consider to be an essential title to include in a lower elementary classroom library is THE LLAMA WHO HAD NO PAJAMA. This collection contains one hundred of Hoberman’s most popular poems selected from her earlier works. Its poems are sure to delight and engage young children. In fact, many of the poems in this book—such as Hello and Good-by, Windshield Wipers, Ducks, Snow, and Yellow Butter—beg to be memorized.


Written by Mary Ann Hoberman
Illustrated by Betty Fraser

Browndeer Press/Harcourt Brace (1998)

Here is one of my favorite poems from THE LLAMA WHO HAD NO PAJAMA:

by Mary Ann Hoberman

Think how fast a year flies by
A month flies by
A week flies by
Think how fast a day flies by
A Mayfly’s life lasts but a day
A single day
To live and die
A single day
How fast it goes
The day
The Mayfly
Both of those.
A Mayfly flies a single day
The daylight dies and darkness grows
A single day
How fast it flies
A mayfly’s life
How fast it goes.

Three other poems that are included in THE LLAMA WHO HAD NO PAJAMAFish, The Folk Who Live in Backward Town, and Brother—can be found at the website of the Poetry Foundation.

From Fish

Look at them flit
Tearing around
With a leap and a bound…

Read the rest of the poem here.

From The Folk Who Live in Backward Town

The folk who live in Backward Town
Are inside out and upside down.
They wear their hats inside their heads
And go to sleep beneath their beds.

Read the rest of the poem here.

From Brother

I had a little brother
And I brought him to my mother
And I said I want another
Little brother for a change.
But she said don’t be a bother
So I took him to my father
And I said this little bother
Of a brother’s very strange.

Read the rest of the poem here.

THE LLAMA WHO HAD NO PAJAMA is a treasure chest of poems—each of which is a little gem just right for sharing with children...each of which is just right for showing children how much fun language can be.

If you enjoyed reading these poems, you may want to visit the Poems page of Hoberman’s website where you will find several more of her works.

I’ll close my post this Poetry Friday with the ending lines from the last poem in THE LLAMA WHO HAD NO PAJAMA.

From Good Morning When It’s Morning

Good morning to the sunshine
Good evening to the sky
And when it’s time to go away

(I would like to thank Mary Ann Hoberman for giving me permission to print the full text of her poem Mayfly.)

Happy Poetry Friday!


Vivian Mahoney said...

I adore Mary Ann Hoberman's work. Thanks for sharing!

Elaine Magliaro said...


I love Mary Ann's poetry. She is such a master of meter and rhyme. It was always fun sharing her poems with my students. Can't wait for next Wednesday when she'll be the featured speaker at our reading council dinner!

Anonymous said...

I too am always on the hunt for great poetry. Thanks for sharing. I can't wait to introduce her work to my first graders.
Katie D