Four Fur Feet for Poetry Friday

"Oh, he walked around the world on his four fur feet,
his four fur feet, his four fur feet.
And he walked around the world on his four fur feet,
and never made a sound-O."

So begins Four Fur Feet, by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Remy Charlip (1990, Hopscotch Books). The walk around the world take a black pawed creature (the four fur feet are all we ever see) through cities, by rivers filled with boats and streams filled with fish, past a railroad yard, and through a countryside full of all kinds of animals. At last the black beast reaches a meadow, where he lies down to dry his paws (they'd gotten wet crossing the stream).

"And the sun shone down on his four fur feet,
his four fur feet, his four fur feet.
And the sun shone down on his four fur feet
and made them feel all warm-O."

As the creature moves around the world, the reader has to move the book around too, until at one point it's upside down. All part of the fun.

To my mind, the illustrations don't invite a great deal of interested looking--they are made of lots of ink lines, sometimes with individual shapes colored in, as on the cover, sometimes just drawn on a solid color background. But since the book itself is (literally) moving, it might be for the best that the pictures aren't such eye-candy that the young read-ee wants to keep the reader's arm from turning.

And it is the words, the swing and rhythm of them (that Margaret Wise Brown at her best has such a good ear for), which make this book great fun. Although it is "four fur feet" that really makes it--this verse dosen't have them, and suffers as a result:

"And as he slept, he dreamed a dream,
dreamed a dream, dreamed a dream.
And as he slept, he dreamed a dream
that all the world was round-O."

This book has practical utility, in that the poem can be adapted to those situations where you are trying to get your four year old child to move. Here's an example from last night:

Oh he walked to his bed on his four fur feet,
his four fur feet, his four fur feet,
Oh he walked to his bed on his four fur feet,
and didn't get up till the morning! (ha ha)

Or you can walk up the stairs, to the car, to the door, etc. It is interesting and effective at the moment (two days after reading), but I'm not sure how long it will last. (Fast forward ten years: Oh he took out the trash on his four fur feet...)

On the right is the 1994 edition of the same story, illustrated by W.H. Marx. I much prefere the earlier one, with its very mysterious creature. Leaving the creature to the imagination of the reader makes it much more interesting. You can draw a set of four fur feet for everyone:

And then they can draw their own creature, like so:

More creaures (including mine) will be added later--I forgot to bring them with me to scan.

And finally, back to the poetry part of it all, there's a lesson plan up on the web here on how to use this book to explain alliteration to young kids.

The Poetry Friday Roundup is here at the Farm School today!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Charlotte! We'll definitely look for the Charlip edition at the library (we get the vast majority of our books from the library, too). I love that you move the book around as you read. Thanks also for including the drawings in this post!


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