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Over the River and Through the Wood

Paperback
, 592 pages

62 b&w illus.

ISBN:
9781421411408
December 2013
$29.95

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Over the River and Through the Wood

An Anthology of Nineteenth-Century American Children's Poetry

Over the River and Through the Wood is the first and only collection of its kind, offering readers an unequaled view of the quality and diversity of nineteenth-century American children's poetry. Most American poets wrote for children—from famous names such as Ralph Waldo Emerson to less familiar figures like Christina Moody, an African American author who published her first book at sixteen. In its excellence, relevance, and abundance, much of this work rivals or surpasses poetry written for adults, yet it has languished—inaccessible and unread—in old periodicals, gift books, and primers. This groundbreaking anthology remedies that loss, presenting material that is both critical to the tradition of American poetry and also a delight to read.

Complemented by period illustrations, this definitive collection includes work by poets from all geographical regions, as well as rarely seen poems by immigrant and ethnic writers and by children themselves. Karen L. Kilcup and Angela Sorby have combed the archives to present an extensive selection of rediscoveries along with traditional favorites. By turns playful, contemplative, humorous, and subversive, these poems appeal to modern sensibilities while giving scholars a revised picture of the nineteenth-century literary landscape.

Karen L. Kilcup is a professor of American literature at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Her books include Teaching Nineteenth-Century American Poetry and Fallen Forests: Emotion, Embodiment, and Ethics in American Women’s Environmental Writing, 1781–1924. Angela Sorby is an associate professor at Marquette University in Milwaukee. Her books include Schoolroom Poets: Childhood, Performance, and the Place of American Poetry, 1865–1917, and three poetry collections, most recently The Sleeve Waves.

"It is said that the nineteenth century invented children's literature and in doing so reinvented childhood. This magical and very delicious book sets us down right in the middle of that rich act of imagination. I imagine that children are going to love this book as much as the adults who will be reading it to them. A wonderful gift. An amazing act of (deft, almost invisible) scholarly recuperation."

"I have been wanting a book like this for as long as I can remember. It is a tremendous accomplishment; one of those rare books that is an absolute 'must own' for anyone with an interest in children's poetry, and even poetry in general."

"Kilcup and Sorby have done us a huge service here in bringing this collection of superb poetry for children by nineteenth-century poets under a single cover. It's a major contribution to literary studies, of course. But more so, it's a book that every child—whatever his or her age—will enjoy. I expect to spend long hours with this book in my old age! Strongly recommend to all lovers of American poetry."

"This delightful anthology, gathered from the golden age of children’s verse, offers a wealth of poems for (and often by) children. The book is divided into sections according to theme, and that is a brilliant idea because children’s poetry of the latter 19th century was not often grim and admonitory, and the poems of any section tend to be full of amiable interplay. Speaking for myself, as I read these poems and enjoy their variety, I feel as if I were present at a warm-hearted gathering of family and friends."

"What a vast, rich, astonishing collection... a book to savor, to delight in, and above all, to teach."

"It will indeed be a living canon resonating with readers of all ages. Aside from the book's scholarly value, parents and grandparents will find themselves dipping into it regularly."

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