Reviews of children's and young adult books old and new

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Poem A Day...

"Ma and God" by Shel Silverstein from Where the Sidewalk Ends

God gave us fingers--Ma says, "Use your fork."
God gave us voices--Ma says, "Don't scream."
Ma says eat broccoli, cereal and carrots.
But God gave us tasteys for maple ice cream.

God gave us fingers--Ma says, "Use your hanky."
God gave us puddles--Ma says, "Don't splash."
Ma says, "Be quiet, your father is sleeping."
But God gave us garbage can covers to crash.

God gave us fingers--Ma says, "Put your gloves on."
God gave us raindrops--Ma says, "Don't get wet."
Ma says be careful, and don't get too near to
Thoses strange lovely dogs that God gave us to pet.

God gave us fingers--Ma says, "Go wash 'em."
But God gave us coal bins and nice dirty bodies.
And I ain't too smart, but there's one thing for certain--
Either Ma's wrong or else God is.

Like many children Shel Silverstein was my favorite poet when I was growing up. My copy of Where the Sidewalk Ends is literally falling apart from being read so many times. This poem was one of my favorites from that book. I remember reading it and getting to the end and thinking, 'I can't let my parents read this one, they will not think it is funny and I will get in trouble for thinking it is funny.' It turns out all my fears were unjustified and my parents did see the humor in the poem. I loved the way Shel wrote but I was not a fan of his illustrations, I always thought they looked too dirty, too unfinished. It was the first time as a child I was confronted with a piece of art that was not perfectly polished and pretty. I didn't really know what to do with it and for awhile was confused as to why he would have these "ugly" drawings in his books next to the great poems. When I got a little older I started to understand how much his drawings were apart of the book and the presentation of the poems and I learned to love them.

Do you remember your favorite poet or poem from growing up? I would love to know what you liked.


  1. Even as a youngster I wasn't a big poetry fan, but I love the Lady of Shallott. Probably because of Anne Green Gables. First in the books and then seeing it on the movie made it more accessible for me.

  2. Nicole, I liked that poem as well and it was definitely because of Anne of Green Gables. I liked when books I read mentioned 'real' books that the characters were reading. I felt like you got to know more about the character if you could go and read what they were reading. Thanks for sharing!