In 1982, John Ciardi received the National Council of Teachers of English Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children and was the creator of one of the most beloved contemporary children’s poems of all time, “Mummy Slept Late and Daddy Fixed Breakfast” (according to Ann Terry’s study in the 1970’s). Here’s how that classic poem begins:
Mummy Slept Late and Daddy Fixed Breakfast
By John Ciardi
Daddy fixed the breakfast.
He made us each a waffle.
It looked like gravel pudding.
It tasted something awful.
From: You Read to Me, I'll Read to You. Illustrated by Edward Gorey. Philadelphia: Lippincott. Reprinted. New York: HarperTrophy, 1987.
John Ciardi’s smart and often sardonic poetry paved the way for the work of Shel Silverstein, Jack Prelutsky, Douglas Florian, and many others-- and for much of the humor we still see in poetry for young people today.
Who writes like Ciardi (pronounced Chee-ardy)?
My vote goes to current Children’s Poet Laureate, J. Patrick Lewis who demonstrates a similar mastery of form, puns, irony, and surprise. Pat has several new books out this year, of course (he is SO productive!). Look for:
Lewis, J. Patrick. 2013. Face Bug: Poems. Photos by Frederic Siskind. Ill. by Kelly Murphy. Honesdale, PA: Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press.
Lewis, J. Patrick. 2013. World Rat Day: Poems About Real Holidays You've Never Heard Of. Ill. by Anna Ruff. Somerville, MA. Candlewick Press.
Lewis, J. Patrick. 2006. Once Upon a Tomb: Gravely Humorous Verses. Somerville, MA: Candlewick.
Lewis, J. Patrick. 2009. The Underwear Salesman: And Other Jobs for Better or Verse. Ill. by Serge Bloch. New York: Simon & Schuster/Atheneum.
Lewis, J. Patrick. 2009. Countdown to Summer: A Poem for Every Day of the School Year. Ill. by Ethan Long. New York: Little, Brown.
Lewis, J. Patrick and Yolen, Jane. 2012. Last Laughs: Animal Epitaphs. Ill. by Jeffrey Timmins. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge.
Lewis, J. Patrick. 2012. If You Were a Chocolate Mustache. Ill. by Matt Cordell. Honesdale, PA: Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press.
Posting by Sylvia M. Vardell © 2013. All rights reserved.
Image credits: edwardgoreyelephanthouse.tumblr.com;Wordsong/BoydsMillsPress;Candelwick