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nobody else's daddy comes to the park

idyllic passages of classic children's literature

October 1st, 2010

the summer is over,
    the trees are all bare,
there is mist in the garden
    and frost in the air.
the meadows are empty
    and gathered the sheaves —
but isn't it lovely
    kicking up leaves!

john from the garden
    has taken the chairs;
it's dark in the evening
    and cold on the stairs.
winter is coming 
    and everyone grieves —
but isn't it lovely
    kicking up leaves!

("october," by rose fyleman, from gay go up, published 1930)

September 1st, 2010

asters, deep purple...

sarah bolger

a road like brown ribbon,
a sky that is blue,
a forest of green
with that sky peeping through.

asters, deep purple,
a grasshopper's call,
today it is summer,
tomorrow is fall.

("september," by edwina h. falls, from sung under the silver umbrella: poems for young children, published 1935)

August 24th, 2010

Would you want to live forever? Does your answer change depending on whether or not everyone else gets to live forever as well?

colin had dropped back against his cushions, even though he gasped with delight, and he had covered his eyes with his hands and held them there, shutting out everything until they were inside. not till then did he take them away and look round and round and round as dickon and mary had done. and in wonder mary and dickon stood and stared at him. he looked so strange and different because a pink glow of color had actually crept all over him –- ivory face and neck and hands and all.

“i shall get well!” he cried out. “mary! dickon! i shall get well! and i shall live forever and ever and ever!”

one of the strange things about living in the world is that it is only now and then one is quite sure one is going to live forever and ever. one knows it sometimes when one gets up at the tender solemn dawn-time and goes out and stands alone and throws one’s head far back and looks up and up and watches the pale sky slowly changing and flushing until the east almost makes one cry out and one’s heart stands still at the strange unchanging majesty of the rising of the sun -– which has been happening every morning for thousands and thousands of years.

and it was like that with colin when he first saw and heard and felt the spring inside the four high walls of a hidden garden. that afternoon the whole world seemed to devote itself to being perfect and radiantly beautiful and kind to one boy.

(from the secret garden, by frances hodgson burnett, published 1910)

August 12th, 2010

when the sun is strong
and the day is hot,
we move around
at a peaceful trot.
we don't wear much
in the way of clothes
and we squirt ourselves
with the garden hose.

("in august," from around and about, by marchette g. chute, published 1957)

July 19th, 2010

sweet little wobbly pups

drew barrymore
How would you change the world with $10,000?

if i had a hundred dollars to spend,
or maybe a little more,
i'd hurry as fast as my legs would go
straight to the animal store.

i wouldn't say, "how much for this or that?"
or, "what kind of dog is he?"
i'd buy as many as rolled an eye
or wagged a tail at me!

i'd take the hound with the dropping ears
that sits by himself alone,
and cockers and cairns and wobbly pups
for to be my very own.

i might buy a parrot all red and green,
and the monkey i saw before,
if i had a hundred dollars to spend,
or maybe a little more.

("the animal store," from taxis and toadstools: verses and decorations, by rachel field, published 1926)

July 10th, 2010

What was your childhood dream? Did you ever accomplish it?

"after i'd seen as much of the world as I want to, i'd like to settle in Germany and have just as much music as i choose. i'm to be a famous musician myself, and all creation is to rush to hear me. And i'm never to be bothered about money or business, but just enjoy myself and live for what i like. that's my favorite castle. what's yours, meg?"

"i should like a lovely house, full of all sorts of luxurious things: nice food, pretty clothes, handsome furniture, pleasant people, and heaps of money. i am to be mistress of it, and manage it as i like, with plenty of servants, so i never need work a bit. How i should enjoy it! for i wouldn't be idle, but do good, and make everyone love me dearly."

"i'd have a stable full of arabian steeds, rooms piled high with books, and i'd write out of a magic inkstand, so that my works should be as famous as laurie's music. i want to do something splendid before i go into my castle, something heroic or wonderful that won't be forgotten after i'm dead. i don't know what, but i'm on the watch for it, and mean to astonish you all some day. i think i shall write books, and get rich and famous, that would suit me, so that is my favorite dream."

"mine is to stay at home safe with father and mother, and help take care of the family," said beth contentedly.

"don't you wish for anything else?" asked laurie.

"since i had my little piano, i am perfectly satisfied. i only wish we may all keep well and be together, nothing else."

from chapter 13, "castles in the air"


beth lay a minute thinking, and then said in her quiet way, "i don't know how to express myself, and shouldn't try to anyone but you, because i can't speak out except to my jo. i only mean to say that i have a feeling that it never was intended i should live long. i'm not like the rest of you. i never made any plans about what i'd do when i grew up. i never thought of being married, as you all did. i couldn't seem to imagine myself anything but beth, trotting about at home. i never wanted to go away, and the hard part now is the leaving you all. i'm not afraid, but it seems as if i should be homesick for you, even in heaven."

jo could not speak, and for several minutes there was no sound but the sigh of the wind and the lapping of the tide. a white-winged gull flew by, with the flash of sunshine on its silvery breast. beth watched it till it vanished, and her eyes were full of sadness. a little gray-coated sand bird came over the beach peeping softly to itself, as if enjoying the sun and sea. it came quite close to beth, and looked at her with a friendly eye and sat upon a warm stone, dressing its wet feathers, quite at home. beth smiled and felt comforted, for the tiny thing seemed to offer its small friendship and remind her that a pleasant world was still to be enjoyed.

from chapter 36, "beth's secret"

(both extracts from little women, by louisa may alcott, published 1869)

July 1st, 2010

underneath petals pink

karen dotrice

when the scarlet cardinal tells
her dream to the dragonfly,
and the lazy breeze makes a nest in the trees,
and murmurs a lullaby,
it's july.

when the tangled cobweb pulls
the cornflower's cap awry,
and the lilies tall lean over the wall
to bow to the butterfly,
it's july.

when the heat like a mist veil floats,
and poppies flame in the rye,
and the silver note in the streamlet's throat
has softened almost to a sigh,
it's july.

when the hours are so still that time
forgets them, and lets them lie
underneath petals pink till the night stars wink
at the sunset in the sky,
it's july.

("july," by susan hartley swett, published circa 1880)

June 23rd, 2010

a whipping from pa

mary badham
Have you ever struck someone in a fit of anger or self-defense? If so, did you live to regret it?

laura grabbed the biggest chip, and mary said: "i don't care. aunt lotty likes my hair best, anyway. golden hair is lots prettier than brown."

laura's throat swelled tight, and she could not speak. she knew golden hair was prettier than brown. she couldn't speak, so she reached out quickly and slapped mary's face. then she heard pa say, "come here, laura."

she went slowly, dragging her feet. pa was sitting just inside the door. he had seen her slap mary. "you rememeber," said pa, "i told you girls you must never strike each other."

"but mary said--" laura began.

"that makes no difference," said pa. "it is what i say that you must mind." then he took down a strap from the wall, and he whipped laura with the strap.

laura sat on a chair in the corner and sobbed. when she stopped sobbing, she sulked. the only thing in the whole world to be glad about was that mary had to fill the chip pan all by herself.

(from little house in the big woods, by laura ingalls wilder, published 1932)

June 20th, 2010

daddy's little rose

mara wilson
What is your fondest childhood memory of your father or grandfather?

sometimes in the summer,
when the day is hot,
daddy takes the garden hose
and finds a shady spot.
then he calls me over,
looks at my bare toes,
and says, "why, you need a sprinkling,
you thirsty little rose!"

("sprinkling," by dorothy mason pierce, from sung under the silver umbrella: poems for young children, published 1935)

June 19th, 2010

afternoon at the beach

elle fanning
What's your idea of the perfect weekend? Do you generally prefer unstructured time or a busy social calendar?

we brought a rug for sitting on.
our lunch was in a box.
the sand was warm. we didn't wear
our hats or shoes or socks.

the waves came curling up the beach.
we waded. it was fun.
our sandwiches were different kinds.
i dropped my jelly one.

("the picnic," from hop, skip and jump, by dorothy aldis, published 1934)
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