Holiday Poems for Children is, as you would expect, a collection of twenty poems for children about some of the holidays they may celebrate. Included are Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Clearly this is not a multi-cultural offering; nearly every holiday covered is based on Christian celebrations or myths.
If those looking for a more inclusive collection will be disappointed, they are sure to be joined by those who have a more traditionalist philosophy of rhyme and meter. Poems do not have to rhyme; that’s elementary. Throw out the rhyme and meter becomes less important (though, not necessarily unimportant). When rhyming poems feature uneven, choppy meter they are often difficult to process. The reader expects a certain flow in a rhyming poem and when the meter is way off, the experience is jarring.
Such is the case with Holiday Poems for Children. In addition to the meter problem, poet Barbara Bryan uses awkward constructions to arrive at rhyming pairs, and easy rhymes that do not fit seamlessly or allow the story to flow. In some of her poems, the meter works because it is not too far off base, and might be acceptable.
In the poem “Easter Egg Hunt” the reader finds one of those clumsy passages:
“I’ll hide them for my sisters to find.
“I’m sure they will not mind.”
as well as one that works:
“I wonder how he knew
“that I wanted to find some too?”
(Drop the word “that” from the second excerpt, and it works even better.)
What’s unfortunate is that readers are very likely to feel that they could have made the poems more lyrical. Perhaps they should try; a few revisions here and there might hurt the poet’s feelings but could be a vast improvement on the originals. Who knows? Maybe a few potential poets will find their muses.
While the book promises that “readers of all ages [will] learn about the characters and history behind [the holidays]” it falls short of that aim. There are few history lessons in Holiday Poems for Children; one poem about Thanksgiving is from the Native American’s viewpoint, but — at best — it’s superficial. Who was St. Patrick? St. Valentine? You won't find those answers here.
It is hoped that those who read Halloween poems to young children would choose some that might be a little scary but are leavened with silliness. Not so with the sinister “Voices,” one of Bryan’s Halloween entries:
“She hears voices and she knows
“they will follow her wherever she goes.
“The words spoken are very mean,
“but no people can be seen.
“She will sit alone and hide
“because no one is on her side…”
It concludes with the revelation that “she” was having a nightmare which, somehow, doesn’t alleviate the creepiness factor. Paranoia, anyone?
Holiday Poems for Children is, on the whole, an unappealing book. Its pencil and crayon illustrations that look very much like children’s drawings brighten its pages but the words within do not entertain.
Bottom Line: Would I buy Holiday Poems for Children? No.Powered by Sidelines