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The Barefoot Book of Classic Poems Review by Tammy Walker

Compiled and illustrated by Jackie Morris
Barefoot Books
2067 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02140

This wonderful book will be a treasured find for anyone who wants to bring beautiful, classic poetry into the schoolroom. Barefoot Books artfully brings together the written word with captivating pictures, and this compilation is no exception. Children of all ages will be drawn into the wonderful nonsense of "The Jabberwocky" by Lewis Carol, the peaceful rhythm of "The Daffodils" by William Wordsworth, and the often quoted wisdom poem by Rudyard Kipling, "If."

Tracing the journey from birth to old age, this collection includes some of the greatest works of poetry from the English language's most enduring writers: William Shakespeare, Robert Louis Stevenson, Edgar Allan Poe, William Blake, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, J. R. R. Tolkien, W. B. Yeats, E. E. Cummings, William Wordsworth, Christina Rossetti, and many more.

We are introduced to the beauty of pregnancy in W. H. Davies' poem, "The Beautiful":

Three things there are more beautiful than any man could wish to see: The first, it is a full-rigged ship sailing with all her sails set free; The second, when the wind and sun are playing in a field of corn; The third, a woman young and fair, showing her child before it is born.

We frolic with "maggie and milly and molly and may" on the beach, racing "sideways while blowing bubbles" (e. e. cummings), and share in the tragic loss of love in Edgar Allan Poe's "Annabel Lee":

I was a child and she was a child In this kingdom by the sea: But we loved with a love that was more than love I and my ANNABEL LEE.

We examine nature and God:

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright In the forests of the night . . . (Blake)

We contemplate love:

She walks in beauty like the night Of cloudless chimes and starry skies… (Byron)

We celebrate the victory of war:

We brought away from battle, And much their land bemoaned them, Two thousand head of cattle, And the head of him who owned them. (Peacock)

And last, we reflect upon our old age and the life we have spent:

When I consider how my light is spent Ere half my days, in this dark world wide . . . (Milton)

Fine poetry is able to quicken the senses and the intangible emotions and transport them to other worlds. Beautiful words speak for themselves and seldom need teachers. While you may want to bring up little ones hearing and reading clever verse by Mother Goose and Robert Louis Stevenson, children growing into maturity will benefit from exposure to many genres and sources. Though I want my children nourishing themselves primarily on Truth from God's Word, I hope to introduce them to the graces He provides through wonderfully written words in prose and verse. I was glad to have found a compilation whose rich artwork so complements the richness of the poetry within.

Product review by Tammy Walker, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, March 2008