Friday, May 14, 2010


 A.A. Milne 

W.G.Du P.
Took great
C/O his M*****
Though he was only 3.
J.J. said to his M*****
"M*****," he said, said he:

This is the last stanza of A. A. Milne's wonderful poem titled Disobedience. You can read the whole poem here.   I've chosen it for Poetry Friday not only because I love it, but because it's mentioned in an essay I hope you will read, written by Katherine Paterson, our new National Ambassador for Young People's Literature.  I've met Katherine several times - she visits our residencies at Vermont College of Fine Arts, where I teach in the graduate Writing for Children and Young Adults program; sometimes she kicks the residency off with a wonderful keynote presentation.  She is the very best kind of ambassador, since she combines the ability to listen carefully with the ability to speak eloquently. Besides, she is gentle and funny and bright - such a lovely combination! I am so so pleased to have her represent children's book writers and readers to the American public at large. Please do go to the linked essays - both are hers)- it will only be available online through May 24th....
...and Happy Children's Book Week May 10-16!
Katherine Paterson

This week's Poetry Friday round-up is over at Jama Ratigan's delicious Alphabet Soup. Go slurp some up!

P.S. I'd like to call special attention to a poet over at the Round-Up - her name is Shelley Shaver and she has a very exciting site (sponsored by  The Horton Foote Society) called Rain: A Dust Bowl Story. You simply have to go there to understand how this episodic story-poem works. Linger, and leave comments, either at the main page, or after one of the poem's episodes. It puts a face - many faces, actually - on the Great Depression (and don't we all hope that we won't have to start putting a #1 after that, given how many families are losing their homes, their jobs, their hope for the future now.)


  1. Have to chuckle about Paterson reading Charlotte's Web and being told that she's "ruining it" by crying at the end. Hah! I'd like to get through Love That Dog someday without those pauses between words at the last page.

    I think that poem is the most fun because it's so unexpected, in a child who feels safe, to imagine a mother wandering off and being "bad." It's a good poem for really secure children. (Unfortunately, not every kid could appreciate it.)

  2. Hi, Julie--

    I adore this poem, have delighted in rediscovering them all with my son (turns out 7 is not too late for Now We Are Six), and had every intention of opening the Governance section of our public charter school application with it--you know, to let the school district know that we wouldn't "go down to the end of the town without consulting thee." Then I looked it up and discovered that it's titled "Disobedience."

    There are no poems in the Governance section.

  3. I read that essay a few years ago. It's just wonderful -- the power of poetry to stay with us, connect people.

  4. What a fun poem. That A.A. Milne was so darned clever! I will have to check out the Paterson post, since both you and Jeanine Atkins have mentioned it today!

  5. I have Katherine Paterson's collection of essays, "A Sense of Wonder" on my desk, and each time I read one of her beautiful, brilliant pieces, I'm inspired to work harder to be more like her. I'm so glad there will be another collection from her---even if the content overlaps, I'm sure I'll read them twice (at least) any way!

  6. Hi Julie,

    Even if I didn't understand the words, the sound and snappy rhythm of "Disobedience" make me smile.

    Paterson's essay is so true. Books change our lives.

    Laura Evans
    all things poetry

  7. Katherine Paterson was a brilliant choice of Ambassador.

  8. Nothing is more important than children, so it's wonderful that you're helping teach people to write well for them.

    And Julie, I so appreciate your kind mention of my work here. I share your concern about the effects--many of them hidden--of the current hard times on American families. The families I write about are learning to survive, but it takes a toll.