Book Review: When We Were Very Young, by A. A. Milne

In honor of the passing of Toni Morrison, I felt it appropriate to pay her tribute by reviewing a book of poetry that has been influential to many. I know it’s not one of hers, to lend my uneducated opinion on her poetry feels like a disservice. Her writing is evocative and deep and would require more time than I have to really dig deep and give it the attention it deserves. Instead, I chose something recently recommended to me.

I asked Candace, my fellow author buddy, what her favorite book was and she told me When We Were Very Young by A. A. Milne, I had to pick it up and give it a go. It’s a little thing, easily enjoyed in an hour or two. I read poem at a time while waiting at orthodontic appointments and cowering in the shade while hanging out with my kids at parks.

It really is a lovely collection of ideas drawing the reader back to a simpler time when a kitchen chair was a cage for a lion and a tubby bellied bear felt bad about his roundness until he met a handsome and equally tubby prince.

I also loved the freedom of using words for their rhythm and repetition and not being tied down to grammatical standards. After writing prose for so long, it’s a nice change to see it done differently. A. A. Milne does a wonderful job using repetition to create a sing-song quality to his verses which would make it fun to read these aloud to children.

I’m told this is the first appearance of Winnie the Pooh’s character, although at this point he is only referred to as the tubby bear. Christopher Robin pokes his head in as well. The first Winnie the Pooh book wasn’t published until two years after this book had been out.

For me, I’ve been working on developing more lyricism in my prose. One of the things that can help is reading more poetry and piecing together the parts that draw my attention. I think I’ll be playing with a few new ideas this week. I’m looking forward to it.

Perhaps I should find another poetry book…

If you enjoy simple lovely poetry, you’ll enjoy When We Were Very Young. If you’ve been meaning to read more poetry and don’t know where to start, or don’t like complicated themes, this is a good pick for you as well.

However, if you were hoping for profound truths about life the world and everything and want the poem itself to do the heavy lifting, these won’t do that. That is, unless you choose to apply lots of your own logic and theories, then perhaps they will. I won’t judge.

Psst! Jodi here. Did you enjoy today’s review? Did it help you decide if this book was for you? Cool, eh?

Guess what? You can do the same for me. If you’ve read Stonebearer’s Betrayal, head on over to Amazon, Goodreads, or the book site of your choice and leave me a review.

It doesn’t have to be big and long like this one – a few sentences is perfect! Thanks in advance!

The Road Not Taken

This weekend, as my family and I explored the mountains, I was reminded of the all time classic poem,The Road Not Taken, by Robert Frost.  This poem has found a special place in my heart.

Everyday I’m presented with choices. Endless. Unrelenting. Choices.  It starts the second I wake up.  Do I sleep in today?  What should I wear? What should I feed the kids for breakfast?  For most, choosing the better choice isn’t hard.  Well, except with sleeping in, that’s a beast.

Then there are those choices where the outcome isn’t clear.  How should I discipline the kids? Should I eat artificial sweeteners? How much time should I spend writing instead of being with my kids?  Having to choose when the path is unclear is troubling.  If I discipline incorrectly am I creating monsters?  Will I get cancer from my Diet Coke? Will my children resent me as adults because I chose to write?

When things are rough and I’m feeling overwhelmed I know I choose the easier path, even when it is heading in a direction I don’t want to go.  I sleep in, eat brownies, and (gasp) yell. The problem with the easy path is that it is so enticing.  I’ll admit, I don’t want trial in my life. I hate confrontation and discord more than heights, snakes, and spiders combined. However, hating trials don’t mean that they don’t seek me out.  I have battles everyday, just like everyone else.

In the end, I must decide on where I want go.  Having a goal helps to steer in the right direction.  If I want to trim my waist line I have to stop haunting my kitchen hunting for treats.  If I want my children to speak kindly to each other I have to speak kindly to them.  If I want more time writing and working toward finishing my book, I have to spend less time watching TV and browsing the internet.

I have to take the road not taken.  Even when it’s hard.  Especially when it’s hard.

road-not-takenThe Road Not Taken – Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.