thank heaven for little girls

Walter Dean Myers is an African-American author of young adult literature, but at least one of his books, FALLEN ANGELS, a coming-of-age novel set in Vietnam, was placed on The American Library Association’s list of frequently challenged books because of its adult language and realistic depiction of the war. He’s a prolific author of more than 50 books, including non-fiction and the book of photographs and verse from which today’s featured verse appeared in 1993. I like it because it’s such a dead-on portrait of a child and makes me think of my granddaughter who will soon turn seven. She’s been giggling from an early age, just as little girls should.

Jeannie Had a Giggle

by Walter Dean Myers

Jeannie had a giggle just beneath her toes
She gave a little wiggle and up her leg it rose

She tried to grab the giggle as it shimmied past her knees
But it slid right past her fingers with a “‘scuse me if you please”

It slipped around her middle, it made her jump and shout
Jeannie wanted that giggle in, that giggle wanted out!

Jeannie closed her mouth, but then she heard a funny sound
As out that silly giggle flew and jumped down to the ground

Jeannie caught it with her foot just beneath her toe
She gave a little wiggle and up her leg it rose

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28 thoughts on “thank heaven for little girls

  1. Yes, Aunty. Thank heavens ! What a lovely little poem it is ! Thanks for sharing. My little girls (no longer so little) will surely love it.

    • Your little girls are so lucky to have a dad like you. You’re exactly right for them. I remember when I knew I’d chosen exactly the right father for my two daughters, too. In this country, men often want sons first, and in the case several daughters come along but not sons they can get razzed, good naturedly for the most part, that they’re “not up” to producing sons. When a gentleman at a party we were attending learned we had two daughters, he asked Hubby how he’d come to have only girls and no sons. Hubby, who is never at a loss for words, answered “Just lucky I guess!”

      • Thanks for the undeserved compliments and endorsement, Aunty. Much as I would like to beleive I am a great dad, my little ones spare no occassion to let me know I could do better ! When Usha was in the family way, we prayed we would get a daughter both times. Remember what I said in my last post about prayers? “When we succeed, it is always due to our effort and merit and we deserved nothing less to begin with”. You can let Uncle know there was no luck here, all just desserts. 🙂

        • Just as we rarely recognize the prophets of our day, teenagers rarely recognize the insight of the parent. Let’s revisit them in 15 or 20 years and see what they say! Besides, in our family it’s up to the women to do or say whatever we can to keep the heads of our men from growing too disproportionately large for them. 😉

  2. I am so impressed with your knowledge of young adult literature – something that gets past most non-teachers, but I guess good books – regardless of the genre – are hard to escape the knowing eye of prolific readers like yourself.

    I am a great admirer of Walter Dean and one of my favorite books of his was illustrated by his son Christopher: HARLEM: A POEM.

    I haven’t seen HUNGER GAMES, the movie yet, but hope to over spring break. We have to review books in our district before approving them to be taught to a “captive audience” of students. And HUNGER GAMES is one of those that our literature selection committee okayed. One of our high school teachers heads a Young Adult literature class, and she bought out the theater on opening day. For some reason this cute teacher saw the movie 3 times in 24 hours with 3 different audiences: the midnight showing, a private showing for her class, and a regularly scheduled showing. It was interesting to her that the private showing cheered loudest and longest during the most violent scenes.

    As a good teacher does, she discussed this observation and its implications with her students. I don’t know the details of that conversation, but I am sure it was most interesting.

    P.S. FALLEN ANGELS was also approved by our district. We do have some parents object, but we provide an alternate text when that occurs – a lot of work for the teacher, but it makes parents happy.

    • I think I was turned on to children’s lit and young-adult books when I volunteered at my youngest daughter’s lit-based elementary school. She learned to read by not only reading some of the absolute best children’s authors, but by writing her own books since she was in kindergarten (the aim of the school). Not only did we have many famous writers visit the school, but a very gifted teacher managed to put through a program with book publishers that passed along to our library an impressive number of books, all gratis. When I was going through many of the books to arrange some sort of system (can’t remember the details) I was completely engrossed, and began writing my own, which–long story short–got some attention from publishers, but (alas) wasn’t carried to fruition. I’m able to carry on through my grandson now, who has inherited the voracious reading appetite of all of us from his mom & dad, to grandpa & grandma. Sounds like a good teacher, that one who encouraged her classes to see HUNGER GAMES. We need to teach our children how to “think”, not just memorize! (Now I’ll get down off my soapbox.) Thanks for the comments. 😀

    • I quite like the way matter and material are reviewed and then made availble to the students in US, particularly the option of offering a revised text if there is parental objection. The other day I read about how enduring popular series like The Hardy Boys have also been revised several times over the years to make them contemporary and also to eliminate racial stereotypes which will not go down well with modern audiences. I wish we had a system of edited/revised versions being made available in schools in India. Here, if something written way back in the 20th Century contained any references not politically correct, the whole work would be junked. Which is sad, because the work otherwise would still be such a rich body of knowledge if just those few unacceptable parts are toned down.

      • Because Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys were/are written by teams of writers, there is little resistance to revising them to reflect the times, but most authors – even those who write YA novels – would rather see their books banned before they would revise them in any way for any reason.

        So our teachers find books that offer similar themes or settings or characters for those students who find the content objectionable. I really like the idea of literature circles where students can choose the books they want to read from a list of options. That way many tastes can be considered. We have learned that students are more engaged if they have some choices in the matters at hand.

        Thanks, Alice’s nephew, for your response to my reply. I love your Aunty even though we have never met face-to-face. We are blogging buddies! =)

        • And I thought no one would make any comments at all! I love it the way the comments are better than the post! 😆

      • I’m thinking of Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn. It’s not important (to me) whether the author was racist (in Twain’s case, he definitely was not!), but he reveals the prevailing attitudes of the day, and (I think) we should not be afraid to let our children see that. To change a single word of his books would be like whitewashing history in my opinion. I would use those stories, and I’m pretty sure teachers do, to dig a little deeper to understand how attitudes shape a society. We learn more from our mistakes than our successes, don’t you think? Having said all that, I understand perfectly what you’re saying here, but in the interest of history I think it’s important that we be careful in the changes we make. And it should be perfectly clear to all that changes have been made.

        • Totally agree! Messing with classics is messing with history. However, teachers have to be prepared for backlash. The same teacher I wrote about in my original post suffered a terrible backlash from her African-American students when they read HUCKLEBERRY FINN. It devastated her, and she is wary about using it again. So sad.

    • I’m glad you liked it, Kay. I like to keep things light as you can see. It’s my way of maintaining balance between our political world and our everyday lives.

    • WordPress seems to have fixed things. Hopefully for good. One of the biggest pleasures of mine is sharing my love of books–first with our two daughters, and now with our grandchildren. One of little Vimmy’s favorites is a book of Aesop fables as they were originally written. I have one I’ve thought of sending to Tin, but it’s one of those picture books ostensibly for adults about an African American boy in New Orleans (I think that’s the setting) who begins his piano career playing sort of illegally in a honky tonk where bad things go down. I suspect it’s a loosely done biography of some real musician but I haven’t researched it to find out for sure. Maybe when he’s older, it will be more appropriate. You have a lot of fine book times ahead–a whole new dimension of raising children. 🙂

  3. Walter Dean Myers also wrote a book about Iraq called Sunrise in Fallujah (or something like that), which i bought for Thomas to read; Frank actually ended up concerned that it was not appropriate….

    • He was reading it as of last weekend, I believe. I haven’t heard anything more about how it was received. I wonder if you’ve read it, and if so you must have thought it had some merit if you bought a copy. There are just too many books competing for my attention all of a sudden! So many books, so little time.

  4. I have this one friend (I have more than one friend, but this particular friend) who always makes me giggle. Or, perhaps it is the interaction between the two of us, but somehow, no matter my mood or the fearsome sadness of the world, I can’t spend very much time with Kate without us breaking out in embarrassingly loud giggles. Thanks for the post.

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