HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: A Child’s Garden of Verses
Author: Robert Louis Stevenson
Illustrator: Brian Wildsmith
Publisher: Star Bright Books, republished in 2008
ISBN-13: 978-1-59572-057-3 (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 159572057X (Hardcover)
ISBN-13: 978-1-59572-263-8 (Paperback)
ISBN-10: 1595722637 (Paperback)
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: For all ages
Rating: 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Stevenson, Robert Louis. A Child’s Garden of Verses (originally published in 1885, and always in print since then; new edition with Wildsmith’s illustrations published in 1966 by Franklin Watts Inc.; redesigned and republished in 2008 by Star Bright Books, 13 Landsdowne St., Cambridge, MA 02139). 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.