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Book Review: Who Swallowed Harold?

Who Swallowed Harold? and Other Poems about Pets
By Susan Pearson
Illustrated by David Slonim
Marshall Cavendish, 2005
Age Range: All Ages

When I’m reading to myself, I like a good novel, preferably one without even a hint of blank verse in it. In reading out loud to The Five-Year-Old, however, it’s a different story. A well-executed rhyme scheme makes many a picture book better.

While I can appreciate the role of poetry in children’s literature, I am rarely interested in collections of poems, for kids or otherwise. But as April is National Poetry Month, we at Caterpickles are dutifully taking a break from our beloved folk tales to explore the mysterious world of (often) short form word play.

We picked up Susan Pearson’s Who Swallowed Harold on a whim. The Five-Year-Old’s whim to be precise. She thought the picture on the front cover looked funny. I thought that was as good a reason as any.

What a happy surprise this book was! For the most part, the poems are light and lively. Several are quite funny, a few poignant, but all are delightful to read out loud. I was a bit leery about reading a book about pets so soon after our cat had died, but Susan Pearson has a thankfully broad definition of “pet.” Yes, you will find poems about cats and dogs in here, but there are also verses dedicated to goldfish, iguanas, snakes, guinea pigs, ferrets, turtles, and ants.

Who Swallowed Harold is a wonderful way to celebrate National Poetry Month with your Caterpickle. Just be ready to read it several times. The Five-Year-Old can’t get enough of it.

And now it’s your turn. Found any good poetry collections for kids?

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2 Responses to “Book Review: Who Swallowed Harold?”

  1. Susan

    I can heartily recommend “Here’s A Little Poem.” It’s an anthology for kids in the 3-7 age range, and it’s absolutely delightful. The poems are short and related to topics (pets, parents, nature, bedtime) that small children can understand, and the illustrations are whimsical and charming. I never would have thought of buying a poetry anthology for my kids (especially since English is not their strongest language), but we received this one as a present over half a year ago. It’s been a favorite ever since. One word of warning: you probably won’t be able to get away with just reading a few of the poems: my kids insist on the entire book each time. Fortunately, it’s possible to read the book in about 15-20 minutes.
    If you want good rhyming schemes, there’s always Dr. Seuss. Each of his books is essentially one long poem. Another poet I remember fondly from my own childhood is Shel Silverstein (“Where the Sidewalk Ends”) although his poems are probably more appealing to slightly older children (2nd-4th grade).


    • Shala Howell

      Susan! How nice to hear from you. We have both Seuss and Shel Silverstein on our shelves right now, but I am intrigued by Here’s a little Poem. It sounds perfect! Thanks for the recommendation.



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