A Child's Garden Of Verse - With Illustrations By Jessie Willcox Smith

by Robert Louis Stevenson

Other authorsJessie Willcox Smith Color Drawings. (Illustrator)
Hardcover, 1947

Call number

J 821 STE


C.Scribner's Sons (1947), Edition: First Edition, 124 pages


A collection of poems evoking the world and feelings of childhood.

Media reviews

Children's Literature
Joni Lucas (Children's Literature) Stevenson's poems and stories are American classics. Poems about rain, foreign lands, travel, windy nights, shadows, swings, cows, the moon and other fanciful things and places fill up this beautifully illustrated book of poems that would make a great gift for new parents. Tasha Tudor's watercolor illustrations help convey the historical flavor of Stevenson's work and conjure up images of simpler times for children. 1999 (orig. 1981), Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, $18.00. Ages All.

User reviews

LibraryThing member MeditationesMartini
I'm glad I waited to review this one. I picked it up to read to my son, and his attention wandered, and he was just not up for it, and I was like "no wonder, Robert Louis Stevenson, your whole book is obviously aimed at Victorian grown-ups and their nostalgia for things like climbing trees and visiting the farm that baby Emmett hasn't even experienced yet." But my mum kept telling me how much I loved this book when I was small, and we kept reading, and over nights Stevenson worked his weirding way on both of us: Emmett (as I fancy it--let's face it, he can't even talk yet) feeling himself into the poems through the big, splashy, soft-focus fairy-pictures with their blues and greens and weird perspectives and distant horizons (and the fact is, if he doesn't know yet from farms or trees or penny-cannons, there are a lot of things here that are already part of his everyday: blocks, the rain, the moon, his little shadow, bedtime. And if the prescriptive intent behind all the "nursie" and fairyland and "ships at sea" stuff can get a little cloying--English childhood is an English garden, practice for when English children will leave to conquer and catalogue and administrate the earth!--it is certainly not that Stevenson was an overt imperialist, merely a man of his times. And the ships speak to me too, and remind me to be vigilant to the ways in which children open the door for their parents to embrace conservatism via halcyon-days sentimentality. And in fact, the overt prescriptiveness can be charming: in 2015 we are already more than primed for a statement of creed like "kids love blocks," it has moved from cliché to archetype and needs the merest oblique mention to activate our frames around it. In 1885? The sentimentalization of children as a whole was a relatively new thing; and Stevenson's way of talking about blocks as though no one has ever talked about blocks before in the history of childhood has a courtly formality: "What are you able to build with your blocks?" his opening gambit in the elaboration of the highly moral thesis "blocks are a tool of the imagination." Like, every time I get to the poem about the enigmatic rider I have to remind myself that he's not a headless horseman (although this does, of course, postdate Ichabod Crane); today he would have to be to get the kids to put down the ipad and listen, and the HH has become in fact a stock character, familiar/lovable/entirely unremarkable/not even scary. The fact that a mere headful horseguy riding by night can conjure up a world of mystery feels so fresh and sincere and simple, like drinking cold water, and if I didn't manage to avoid the curmudgeonly ipad grumbling entirely in this review, I will just say that horseman–ipad–starry night sky, it's all equally as new to my boy.

And the ultimate point here is that now the soft trundling doggerel of it is the only book he has that actually puts him to sleep and doesn't stir up the blood like Go Dog Go! and suchlike, and when you read to him from A Child's Garden he cuddles up and looks at the pictures and drifts away and he is happy.
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LibraryThing member hnebeker
This is a must have book for every library. I recently purchased one for my own. I had this book read to me over and over again as a child and was told not too long ago that it was one of my mother's favorites. If an adult can read something to a child "over and over" and still keep it as a favorite, it must be great- right? My favorite poem is still "how I love to go up so high on my swing..."… (more)
LibraryThing member allawishus
The poems mostly have to do with going off to imaginary lands, utilizing common things in a playful fashion, and enjoying the wonderous time of childhood while it lasts. It's all touched very heavily by nostalgia - I don't know anything about Robert Louis Stevenson's life, but it seems he really wanted his adult life to be simpler and less soul-destroying, ha ha. I think it's kind of funny how adults wax nostalgic about the simpleness of childhood; quite clearly children don't feel it's simple or wonderous very much of the time. ;)

The illustrations by Gyo Fujikawa are also sweetly nostalgic, full of cherubic boys and girls, lush grasses, delicately pretty flowers, butterflies, and birds, etc. I think the artwork was originally published in the 1950's and you can tell - very emblematic of that time. Quite a lovely gift book; some classics could serve as read alouds during a storytime.
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LibraryThing member sdbookhound
I love Child's Garden of Verses and have several copies with different illustrations. This one is one of my favorites with illustrations by George Trimmer. My favorites are The Cow, The Swing, The Land of Counterpane, and My Shadow.
LibraryThing member Ginac
This is a book of poetry by the author of the classic novel ‘Treasure Island’, Robert Louis Stevenson. In this collection, Stevenson recalls his childhood using easy language that manages to take readers to another time. Illustrations by Tasha Tudor also give the book that ‘Precious Moments’ look, adding to the book’s appeal and classic appearance. I think fans of Robert Louis Stevenson will enjoy this book but the poetry is written well enough to appeal to a wider audience.… (more)
LibraryThing member Homeschoolbookreview
Who wrote, "The world is so full of a number of things, I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings"? Did you guess Robert Louis Stevenson? Poetry is not my favorite form of literature. However, Stevenson is one of my best-loved authors, and I have always liked his poetry because, unlike some other poetry that I have read, it makes sense to me. One of my favorites is “The Swing”:
How do you like to go up in a swing,
Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
Ever a child can do!
Of course, one would buy this edition of A Child’s Garden of Verses not only for Stevenson’s poetry (this is not a complete version but a newly revised selection) but also for Brian Wildsmith’s gorgeous, whimsical illustrations. Wildsmith, born in 1931 at the mining village of Penistone in Yorkshire, England, has been called one of the greatest living children’s book illustrators. Stevenson’s poems perfectly capture the make-believe imagination of childhood. What child has not pretended at one time or another that his bed is a ship sailing the wide seas? And Wildsmith’s stunning, colorful paintings perfectly capture the joyful childhood innocence of Stevenson’s poetry. While the language may be upper class Victorian England, the appeal is universal. This would make a wonderful book for a parent to read aloud while the child gazes at the pictures.
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LibraryThing member chelsiking
An amazing author puts together amazing poems! This is a wonderful book for any aged reader & makes poetry very fun. Shows how beautiful poetry can be!
LibraryThing member PollyMoore3
This edition has the classic Charles Robinson illustrations, which though having a certain charm, are like a cross between Mabel Lucie Attwell and Aubrey Beardsley....
There are some well-known delightful classics in here, but I could not help reflecting on what life was like for the children of the time who did not have nannies, well to do fathers, and elegant mammas: not so safe and cosy for them.… (more)
LibraryThing member SeriousGrace
A Child's Garden of Verses is the epitome of poetry for and about children. The imagination of a child grows wild and free among the pages. Hopes and fears are expressed as only children can. The sense of wonder and innocence resonates as reminders to all adults about how the world once was.
LibraryThing member moonbridge
Outstanding poetry for kids and their parents, this edition is the most delightfully illustrated (by Gyo Fujikawa).
LibraryThing member bookswamp
Stevenson's beautiful Children's poems nicely illustrated, soothing for sleepless grown-ups!
LibraryThing member shipalum
A book from my childhood, with many poems I had memorized. The language is suitable for children with a few outdated words and old fashioned clothing, toys, furniture, etc. But who does not remember "I have a little Shadow" or "The Swing"?
LibraryThing member MerryMary
Belonged to Gramma Spray. She inscribed it and gave it to my daughter in 1991.
LibraryThing member katrinafroelich
This delightful collection combines 19th century poetry with simple illustrations that capture the innocence of childhood. The images are colorful with clean lines, multicultural children, and appropriate pictures expressing the mood and tone of each poem, and infusing the language with light and love. The images seemed to be inspired by the 1950’s and upon further research I discovered they were originally done in 1957.… (more)
LibraryThing member psjones
Two of my favorite poems are in this book. The swing poem and my shadow.
LibraryThing member DHARDY
A beautiful collection of Children's poems; the author accurately captures children's games, thoughts and feelings perfectly. They will definitely relate to many of the poem’s themes and will enjoy the fun carefree mood used throughout the verses.

I like the simple illustrations throughout the book and the way each page border is covered with vines and flowers. The author gives us a better view or glance into children’s imagination and thought patterns.

Can be used to explore a child’s imagination and their views on the stories presented in the poem.
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LibraryThing member tmarks
Classic poetry given new life with beautiful illustrations for children to enjoy.
LibraryThing member sharese
A great book of classic poetry that describes what children do during the day, listening to their elders and being thankful for what they have. This is a classic book with wonderful drawings by Eloise Wilkin to go along with the very 1950's style poetry. For example: "A child should always say what's true, and speak when he is spoken to, and behave mannerly at table: at least as far as he is able."
I loved this book as a child but did not read it to my kids. It is really outdated but I love the pictures and find that I am drawn to anything Eloise Wilkin put her hands on. I also have the version of Hilda Boswell's illustrations that are similar but have a different quality. These books will always be around because they are classics but every verse may not be read to children because the parents may have different views of a child's role in the world being much more active than passive.
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LibraryThing member eecnelsen
Great poems about childhood. They remind me of how I felt as a child. With wonder at every corner.
LibraryThing member weeksie50
A great collection of poetry for young children.

The artwork is also very delightful.
LibraryThing member korneder
I saw the next door garden lie,
Adorned with flowers, before my eye
And many pleasant places more
That I had never seen before
LibraryThing member ajterry24

Age range: 4-8 years.

Radical Change: I don't think radical change applies to this book.

Selected poem:

"Foreign Lands" (p. 22)
LibraryThing member lsieber
This is the perfect first poetry book to add to a child's personal library. The poems range from very short to page long, with focus on nature, fantasy, make-believe, and other fun activities of childhood.
LibraryThing member LinneaWarner
This book contains many short poems related to a child's life. I enjoyed this book because it was relatable to my life when I was a child. I would recommend this book for grades K-3.
LibraryThing member ptroche
A Child’s Garden of Verses is a book full of poems and it also has bible verses to go along with each poem. I read The Cow by Robert Louis Stevenson. This poem is about a cow, told in first person, a child talks about the cow he/she loves so much and how the cow gives them their “cream” so the child can eat with his/her apple tart. The child goes into describing how the cow spends her day with the child.

I liked this poem a lot and I enjoyed reading it because just like the child I love cows just because they give me milk, which I love! I enjoyed how they referred to milk as “cream”. As a Christian I really enjoyed the bible verses at the end of each poem.

I would use this poem in a classroom when talking about animals or maybe even when learning the letter ‘C’. And I would use this poem, also, to talk about the lives of farm animals.
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