Apr 7, 2012

A Stick Is An Excellent Thing

A Stick is an Excellent Thing: Poems Celebrating Outdoor Play (CAN, JP, US, INT)

Written by: Marilyn Singer

Illustrated by: LeUyen Pham

Published by: Clarion Books

Published on: February 28, 2012

Tomorrow is the last day of spring vacation for my kids, the new school year starts on Monday. That means uniforms! I know it's a long weekend for Easter in most English-speaking countries too. What more perfect way to spend it than being bored.

Yes, that's right, being bored. I encourage boredom in my kids. Nothing better than a whole day to fill up with whatever you please; roaming the neighbourhood, picking up snails, riding bikes, getting some sun, mock sword-fighting, or playing tag. So many glorious things to spend your time on!

This is why I love this book. It is not just about the excellence of an inanimate object which is just begging to be imprinted with your imagination, but about celebrating everything kids do. Not to mention those adults who get to act like kids (why yes, I did climb on the monkey bars today!).

The poetry within is divine, perfectly playful and a great match in tone for the message of the book. Reading verse like this over and over is a great way to get it to sink into your mind, and once its sunk in you have those phrase constructions, vocabulary, and rhymes stuck in too. It's learning by stealth, just like jacks teaches you math by stealth  and a stick teaches you everything.  The possibilities are only limited by you.

Our fave is the poem entitled Bubbles which starts:
This bubble I'm blowing,/ This bubble is growing--/ This bubble of ginormous size/ It's as big as a plate / You can watch it inflate
How fun is that?

Pham's illustrations add to the delightful text as they convey both the reality and imaginations of these kids. And these unnamed kids have personalities in the pictures, and you get to know them from one spread to the next. The kids are diverse, in personality and ethnicity, in hairstyle, in clothing, and in what they dream about. There is sure to be a kid who calls out to yours.


  1. This sounds like a really interesting book on poetry . Will look out for it the next time we visit the bookstore

    1. Please do, I think your kids would like it, you seem to have them outside doing fun things all the time.


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