I Gave My Mom a Castle


Gifts come in all shapes and sizes. Some sit on a shelf. Some live in the heart. Some hurt. Some heal.
I Gave My Mom a Castle is Jean Little's first poetry collection since the still-loved Hey World, Here I Am! Most selections are prose poems, mini stories about the joys and pains of giving and receiving, featuring a wide cast of characters from toddlers to teens, with an adult or two thrown in for good measure.

Jean Little is one of Canada's ...

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Gifts come in all shapes and sizes. Some sit on a shelf. Some live in the heart. Some hurt. Some heal.
I Gave My Mom a Castle is Jean Little's first poetry collection since the still-loved Hey World, Here I Am! Most selections are prose poems, mini stories about the joys and pains of giving and receiving, featuring a wide cast of characters from toddlers to teens, with an adult or two thrown in for good measure.

Jean Little is one of Canada's favorite writers for children. The author of close to forty books, she has won many major awards and captured the hearts of several generations. Her most recent books include Birdie for Now (Orca) and Orphan at My Door (Scholastic). Jean lives in Guelph with her sister, her twelve-year-old great niece, her seven-year-old great nephew, three dogs, including four-month-old Snug the Pug, two cats, two African gray parrots, and one dwarf rabbit.

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Editorial Reviews

CM Magazine
"There are surprises to be discovered in this book, and there seems to be something for everyone to relate to."
Resource Links
"This specialized anthology is worthy of a place in any school resource centre or classroom reading corner."
Publishers Weekly
Little loosely ties together the prose-poems in this perceptive collection with the theme "the art of giving"-not only physical gifts, but gifts of insight as well. The gently humorous, simply constructed verses in the often clipped delivery of a child's voice seem designed for ease of reading. The poems generally focus on an experience from which a child has learned something, conveyed in a conversational tone-as if six- to 10-year-olds were confiding stories at a pajama party. "My best friend ever since kindergarten/ is from Pakistan./ My second best friend just moved here/ from Hong Kong," says a narrator from Vancouver ("too boring") in the poem "Birth Places." "My big sister Barbara is bats about baseball," begins "Season Tickets," in which the younger sibling comes up with a clever way to give Barbara a stadium seat. "Our baby got all excited this morning./ `Me got you a pwesent,' he said," starts a meditation on manners for a toddler's older sibling in "The First Dandelion." The author's earlier, brilliant poetry collection, Hey World, Here I Am! has the advantage of being delivered by one character, but Little's observations of young people and the topics that concern them- in dealing with grumpy aunts, while reading books or making friends-are as razor-sharp as ever. Denton's unobtrusive sketches, printed in alternately black or blue ink, limn deft characterizations whether of animals or human beings. Ages 9-up. (Feb.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
A poetry collection and mini stories about the joys and pains of giving and receiving. Some of the stories I found in the collection to be a bit offensive—"My Uncle Max is a pig," without clarification. It goes on to say "he eats like a pig, he comes without being invited, I don't know why they let him in..." Other stories are without closure—"John ran away when he was sixteen" and end with "I'll be seeing you." It is not clear just what children are going to get out of these prose poems. On the other hand, there's a delightfully brief piece about a child who receives a book every Christmas—some are hard, some are babyish, but always a book, "until this year." The child never knew Christmas afternoon could be so long. Quite enduring and point well taken. More messages like this one would benefit the young reader. 2003, Orca Book Publishers, Ages 10 to 13.
— Carol Rados
School Library Journal
Gr 4-7-In this solid follow-up to Hey World, Here I Am! (Kids Can, 1986), Little presents a series of poems on the theme of giving and receiving gifts. The mostly free-verse offerings tell different stories about friends and family members and the special moments they share. The acts of giving range from simple things, like feeding the cat, to the heartfelt presentation of a dead worm by a young girl to her mother to affirmations of sibling affection. Little is in tune with children's feelings and perceptions as she captures the delight and the disappointment that presents can bring, and underlines the fact that love and friendship are the best gifts of all. Denton's illustrations lovingly depict the joy and pain that the characters in the poems experience. This title makes a good companion to Belinda Hollyer's The Kingfisher Book of Family Poems (Kingfisher, 2003), which includes some similar themes. A worthwhile addition to poetry shelves.-Laura Reed, Kitchener Public Library, Ontario, Canada Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
This is an engaging package: small poems, most about giving and receiving, with the immediacy of a movie and the energy of a random conversation. They are well-matched by Denton's lively, supercharged drawings, in black-and-white or blue-and-white line and shadow, which capture the spirit and the movement of each poem. The longest are two or three pages; many are shorter. In "The Bulb," a prickly teenager called Mary encounters why her Gran actually named her Amaryllis; in "The Melon," a girl carves her little brother's name in a watermelon that delights him when it's served. In "Loving an Elf," an older sister explains how much easier it is to love her little sister now that she's not quite so cute. Children from toddlers to teens are the voices in these poems, and what is given and received often involves siblings and parents. Quite enjoyable. (Poetry. 9-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781551432533
  • Publisher: Orca Book Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/1/2003
  • Pages: 80
  • Sales rank: 804,531
  • Age range: 9 - 18 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Jean Little was born in Taiwan in 1932. Her parents were both doctors. Jean grew up in Ontario and graduated from the University of Toronto. She was born with a severe eye problem and is severely visually impaired. A special "talking" computer assists her with her writing. She has a retired seeing-eye dog named Ritz and a new one named Pippa, with whom she travels. The author focuses on her experiences from the time she was a child through young adulthood in her autobiography, Little by Little, and continues her story in Stars Come Out Within. The books, which will appeal to children 10 and older, are both humorous and poignant as Jean describes living with a disability and the ridicule she sometimes experienced as a result, as well as her love for the world of reading and books. Jean's books include From Anna, Listen for the Singing, Stand in the Wind, Mama's Going to Buy You a Mockingbird, Hey World, Here I Am!, Look through My Window, Emma's Yucky Brother, The Belonging Place, and Mine for Keeps. Listen for the Singing was the Canada Council Children's Literature Award winner in 1977. Mama's Going to Buy You a Mockingbird was the CLA Book of the Year in 1985.

Jean Little's first book, Mine for Keeps, won the Little, Brown Children's Book Award in 1962 and was republished by Viking Penguin in 1995. It tells the story of Sally Copeland, a 10 year old with cerebral palsy, and her adjustment to being home after spending several years in a special school. You'll find that several of the themes in this book appear in a number of the author's other books: dealing with a handicap and the responses of others, fitting in, and adjusting to new situations and surroundings.


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Read an Excerpt

"I'm tired of telling Batman stories," I told my little brother.

"Just this once, can I tell you The Three Little Pigs?"

"No," he snapped.

"There's no bad guys in it."

"I like bad guys."

So much for you, Big Bad Wolf.

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