Friday, September 18, 2015

Poetry Friday - Consignment Shop Finds

I spent some time "junking" over the last few weeks in an effort to find inexpensive artifacts for some social studies lessons. In my travels I came across these two wonderful books.
The Mouse of Amherst, written by Elizabeth Spires and illustrated by Claire Nivola
I Never Told And Other Poems, written by Myra Cohn Livingston

I'm quite taken with the story of Emmaline, a mouse who lives in Emily Dickinson's bedroom and finds in her a kindred spirit. I'm also quite fond of her poems. Here is one Emmaline wrote in response to a poem of Emily's she read.

I am a Little Thing.
I wear a Little Dress.
I go about my Days and Nights
Taking little barefoot Steps.

But though You never notice me
Nor count me as your Guest,
My soul can soar as High as yours
And Hope burns in my chest!

I hope you have a chance to pick up this gem of a book. Until then, you can read more about the book in this NYTimes book review.

I never miss a chance to pick up a book of Myra's. This one has some lovely poems. Here's a shape poem I particularly like.
This is a quirky little collection about everyday things. Here's one more poem. Given all the talk of Syria, it's one that has taken hold of me and won't let go.

The Game
by Myra Cohn Livingston

Plastic soldiers march on the floor
Off to fight a terrible war.

The green troops charge. The gray side falls.
Guns splatter bullets on the walls.

Tanks move in. Jet fighters zoom
Dropping bombs all over the room.

All the soldiers are dead but two.
The game is over. The war is through.

The plastic soldiers are put away.
What other game is there to play?

That's it for me on this Friday. I do hope you'll take some time to check out all things poetry being shared and collected today by Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty. Happy poetry Friday friends! 


  1. The Mouse of Amherst is used in BetterWorld Books for a small sum. Do you know the site-great number of older books & they do good in the world! As for the Livingston poem. It's hard to imagine it's meant for children, but kids did used to play like that. It's chilling, isn't it? I've found some wonderful older books in thrift shops too. Thanks for sharing, Tricia.

    1. I've been an abebooks user for some time. They have it there for a small amount as well.

      Do you think these online used book markets list from the same booksellers?

      As to Livingston, I was surprised to find this poem, though I recall my brother playing in this way. Perhaps the final question is meant to be a child ready to move on and thinking, "Ok, what next?"

  2. I'm envious of your finds, Tricia! Especially the Myra Cohn Livingston book– love that shape poem. My brother was one of those boys who played with toy soldiers and rarely anything else.

  3. Great finds! I'd seen the Mouse of Amherst awhile ago and loved it - it truly is a gem.

    I need to read more of Livington's poems -- thanks for sharing these. The second one is chilling -- I think of all the poor Syrian child refugees -- not such a game to them.

  4. You had me at Emily and Amherst. I have never heard of this book and I'm definitely going to look for it. Thank you for sharing that. And that poem of toy soldiers does echo what is happening in the world today. thank you for both poems and sharing these wonderful gems.

  5. I adore The Mouse of Amherst and just recommended it to a student the other day. I'm anxious to hear what she thinks of it. I'm not familiar with I Never Told, and usually love all of Livingston's poetry, but The Game does seem out of character. I don't have a brother, and wasn't around boys too much growing up, so when I had boys of my own I was surprised and frustrated that they often made guns out of sticks or Legos in spite of (or maybe because of!) the fact I had banished them!

  6. Congrats on the consignment shop poetry finds. I love used book sales for the same reason; what hidden treasures can be discovered...To extend the prior comments concerning Livingston's poem, I also was taken aback by the realism, despite the pretend-play ending. In addition to not providing any "war toys," I, too, absolutely "forbade" everyone else who otherwise might have been so inclined (like father, grandfathers, uncles, godfathers) from giving our son any toy weapons or other things military. I also made sure there were no violent shows that he watched on tv. Imagine my surprise--consternation, really, despite all those preventions to find him, toddler that he was, using his fingers and cylindrical toys to simulate gun-shooting. Nature/nurture; Heredity/Environment. Think there's something in the male genes? Amazing!

  7. I love your garage sale finds, Tricia! But oh my, that soldier poem is a burr isn't it, especially in the context of current world affairs.

  8. I agree that THE GAME is unusual for Livingston. I've read a lot of her work and don't remember anything else quite like it. I mentioned that I thought this collection was quirky. I can't think of another word for it. The subjects are all over the map.

  9. I have The Mouse of Amherst! It's a lovely little lesson in learning from a mentor poet.

    I picked up an old old Eve Merriam book (Rainbow Writing 1976) and Bobbi Katz's Upside Down and Inside Out 1973) in used bookshops and they are similar to Livingston's, in that in the "old days" a poetry collection did not need a theme (kind of like an adult collection doesn't even now). I join Lee BH in lamenting the demise of that kind of publishing, where a quirky mind can run to end of many roads instead of stopping in one driveway or barnyard--if you know what I mean. There are little known and also less successful poems n each book, but Rainbow Writing has "Reply to the Question 'How Can You Become a Poet?'" and Katz's has the original "Things to Do If You Are A..." series.

  10. Hi, Tricia!

    As you know, I haven't been blogging much. Being a nanny granny keeps me pretty busy these days. Add to that--my troubles with Internet connectivity.

    I have both of these wonderful books!

    Here's a poem from Myra Cohn Livingston's book "Remembering and Other Poems:

    O SAY

    "...neither shall they learn war any more."
    Isaiah 2:4
    Micah 4:3

    Can you see
    the bursting bombs?
    unknown tombs?
    jet fighters?
    smoking guns?
    dead guerrillas?
    bloody dunes?
    crumbled buildings?
    cities burned?

    We never learned.
    We never learned.


  11. Heidi,

    I couldn't agree more about "unthemed" poetry collections. They should have a prominent place alongside the themed collections. I have hundreds of wonderful children's poetry books that were published back in the day--and many of them include poems on various and sundry topics. Unfortunately, the unthemed collections don't have the "hook" that publishers want/expect books to have these days