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Stories and Poems for Extremely Intelligent Children of All Ages Paperback – October 2, 2002

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Editorial Reviews Review

Apart from the Extremely Pompous title, and the heavy bent toward masculine authors, this collection of classics by the likes of Tolstoy, Edith Wharton, O. Henry, and Lewis Carroll is vastly impressive. And editor Harold Bloom does, of course, explain his title in the introduction. He believes that all the included authors "make themselves open to authentic readers of any age." Despising most "commercially offered" contemporary children's literature, Bloom offers up the greats: Edward Lear's "The Owl and the Pussy-Cat," Shakespeare's "The Lion in Winter," Hans Christian Andersen's "The Red Shoes," and dozens upon dozens more, organized on a seasonal scheme. Here, readers of all ages can learn, grow, be entertained, reflect. Bloom quotes poet Wallace Stevens in his test for verse or prose: "it must change, it must give pleasure, and it must be abstract." Every one of these masterpieces of varying lengths is worthy of reading, rereading, and reading aloud--Extremely Intelligent Children of All Ages would be wise to look beyond the title and devour this 573-page anthology, cover to cover.

Bloom is the author of more than 20 other books, including another tome on the art of reading, How to Read and Why. (All ages, of course) --Emilie Coulter --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Grades 3-8--Bloom believes that his intended audience needs few, if any, selections written after World War I. Most stories and poems in this collection come from the 19th century and earlier. Authors represented include Aesop, Rudyard Kipling, Edward Lear, Christina Rossetti, Lewis Carroll, Robert Louis Stevenson, Christopher Smart, William Shakespeare, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, and many more. In his introduction, Bloom states: "-`Children's Literature'-is a mask for the dumbing-down that is destroying our literary culture. Most of what is now commercially offered as children's literature would be inadequate fare for any reader of any age at any time." Emotionally intelligent readers of all ages should be aware that Bloom's taste runs to black humor. Some of his selections, like Hans Christian Andersen's "The Red Shoes," O. Henry's "Witches' Loaves," or Mark Twain's "Journalism in Tennessee," are darkly cruel or savagely ironic. The selections are arranged thematically by the four seasons; there is no index. This collection of classic authors might be useful in a small library in need of poetry and prose from the Western canon. Libraries still owning Walter de la Mare's distinguished Come Hither (Knopf, 1923; o.p.) may pass, as may others who own works by the authors included or various Oxford collections of poetry. Bloom's collection is clearly not aimed at children's librarians, but at book-buying parents. Its consumer-flattering title recalls those conning tailors Hans Christian Andersen described in "The Emperor's New Clothes," a story conspicuously absent from this volume.

Margaret A. Chang, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, North Adams

Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 and up
  • Grade Level: 4 and up
  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; Reprint edition (October 2, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684868741
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684868745
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.4 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #36,443 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Harold Bloom is a Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale University and a former Charles Eliot Norton Professor at Harvard. His more than thirty books include The Best Poems of the English Language, The Art of Reading Poetry, and The Book of J. He is a MacArthur Prize Fellow, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the recipient of many awards and honorary degrees, including the Academy's Gold Medal for Belles Lettres and Criticism, the International Prize of Catalonia, and the Alfonso Reyes Prize of Mexico.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

133 of 134 people found the following review helpful By Patricia A. Powell on October 17, 2001
Format: Hardcover
There are so many collections of stories and poems available at Amazon, your local bookseller, and the library. THIS IS THE ONE TO OWN. It is for adults as well as children. Although not touted as a read aloud book, Bloom’s collection is perfect for that purpose. In fact, it is the best collection of read aloud stories and poems that I have found… and I own many.
My eleven-year-old daughter and I have a tradition of reading out loud every night. We have tried most of the published read aloud books. We have read stories, poem, and novels. We have read ancient myths, contemporary fiction, and even “The Guiness Book of World Records”. We started Bloom’s book at the beginning with “The Human Seasons” by John Keats, and have continued forward. These are stories and poems to read and reread. Some will be committed to memory.
Most of the stories and poems in Bloom’s book were written in the 19th century or earlier. (No one has to be paid for a copyright.) Some of the readings, such as “The Owl and the Pussycat” by Edward Lear, and Lewis Carroll’s “The Walrus and the Carpenter” are easily found elsewhere. Many selections, such as, “Reflections” by Lafcadio Hearn and “The Recessional” by Saki, though, are totally new to me. Most can be read aloud in a few minutes, but a few require a longer commitment of time. These are perfect for bedtime.
Our children can find the Harry Potter books and “The Guiness Book of World Records” without the help of their parents and teachers. But, they will seldom find Stephen Crane, and Rudyard Kipling on their own.
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85 of 86 people found the following review helpful By Leighton Moore on November 16, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This wonderful anthology reminds me of a bookshelf in the house where I grew up. Every children's book we ever had eventually went onto that shelf, along with old anthology sets and even college literature textbooks that I assume had belonged to my parents. The children browsed at large, and there were always old favorites and new acquaintances to find.
This book is like that. Its arrangement (by the seasons of the year) might frustrate a linear mind but is nice for browsing. It contains selections for the quite young (my 3-year-old enjoyed Lear's "The Jumblies" and Kipling's "The Elephant's Child") as well as for rather precocious pre-teens (Hardy's "the Three Strangers" comes to mind). This makes the book worth having in hardback. Themes of love and death, contemplation and fancy, adventure and mystery are sounded by many of the most capable and sensitive authors of the West. The writing is excellent throughout, and there's a refreshing absence of condescension and pedantry.
As our shelf did, Bloom's book holds mostly stories and poems of the Western tradition. That limitation can be criticized, but it would be a mistake, in my view, to let that be a reason for not giving a child this book. You can still buy Ananzi stories or Chinese literature or whatever other books you want. And they'll fit right next to it on the shelf.
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107 of 114 people found the following review helpful By David F. Eustace on October 28, 2001
Format: Hardcover
CHILDREN'S LITERATURE SHOULD NOT BE THE dumbed-down fare often offered, but splendid writing that appeals to intelligence - and lasts through adulthood. So says Harold Bloom, distinguished author of How to Read and Why. To which, aye aye says I.
It is why I have an aversion to the Beatrix Potter stories. I dislike Potter's crude writing (Graham Greene, no less, pointed out that she can barely write a proper sentence, and as for paragraphing, pphew!) How much better to put the well-written poem, fable or story in front of your child - no matter its or the child's age.
Now Bloom puts forth a treasure trove that would make even a pirate sit up and take notice. Culled from several centuries of writers, not all of whom had children in mind when they took quill to parchment, but rather, -and here is Bloom's point - an intelligent audience.
Many of the short entries here come from the nineteenth century. For good reason. It is easy to spot where there is much to be learned by the modern reader from these older tales and poems. For instance, how about the following (from Alice in Wonderland, or is it Alice Through The Looking Glass?) for instilling a good feeling of self-worth in a young girl?
"Hold your tongue," said the Queen turning purple.
"I won't!" said Alice
"Off with her head!" the Queen shouted at the top of her voice.
Nobody moved.
"Who cares for you?" said Alice. She had grown to her full size by this time.)
"You're nothing but a pack of cards!"
More than once in a lifetime, Bloom points out, every reader will grow to full size by crying out, to the right audience "Who cares for you? You're nothing but a pack of cards!
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37 of 39 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 10, 2001
Format: Hardcover
If you haven't been scared away by the pompous title, this book will satisfy your thirst for beautiful and rewarding literature. These are stories selected by Bloom, inc. according to the "worthy of rereading" litmus test, which is, after all, the only real gauge we have for deciding what and what not to read. The stories and poems are primarily drawn from the 19th century, and range from Melville to Lewis Carrol. The selections are arranged thematically by the seasons. The book is handsomely packaged and is a great bed-time reader. Enjoy it on a winter evening among friends, loved ones, and children of all ages. It will rekindle your passion for imaginative literature.
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