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Grandpa Tom's
Book of
Children's Poetry

Story Time Videos
As Told by
Grandpa Tom

Experience Science
with Grandpa Tom

Grandpa Tom

Poems About Grandpa Tom's Favorite Creatures:
Real, Imaginary and Extinct

This book is probably like no other book you've ever seen. It originally started as a few of my favorite children's poems about animals, along with appropriate images; but it's grown over the years.

Early on it became clear to me the usual book format is less than optimal for reading to a class of young children; so I reorganized it so the image is on one page facing the class and the poem is on an opposite page facing the reader. To accomplish this, I bound the book with two O rings at the top (see photos on right). The poem that goes with image n+1 is on the back of the sheet of paper containing image n. The poem that goes with the first image is on the back of the front cover. The pages are made up of images and poems printed on standard 8.5 by 11 paper, and then pasted and taped onto slightly larger construction paper.

Since I keep adding creatures to this book, I have left the opposite side of both the back cover and the final image blank. To add a creature, I paste the new poem on the back side of the sheet holding the final image and add a new sheet of paper holding the new image between the previous final image and the back cover. (again, see photos on right)

This year, I wanted to try to teach the first letters and/or the spelling of the names of creatures, as well as appreciation for poetry and some basic facts about creatures. To do this, I super-imposed the letters and names over the images. I have at least one creature for every letter in the English alphabet. It's too early in the year to tell, but I think it is going to work out.

So now that I've told you how, if you wish, go ahead and make your own book. Best is to use your own poems and images.

Note that many of the poems and images I use (see below) are copyrighted. I prefer to use already existing work, but where necessary I've written my own poems or photocollaged my own images.

I've attempted to give credit to the authors, even when I've changed the poems to the point where the original authors may not even recognize their work. I've also tried to give credit to the artists by providing, when possible, links to the original image. All but a few of the images I use were downloaded from the internet. Anyone who doesn't feel that I've given them proper credit, let me know, and I'll add a credit. Anyone who objects to their work appearing on my website, let me know and I'll take it down.

I've posted some links to videos of me reading some of these poems and other stories to my grand children.




Front Cover
The Animals

Always be kind to animals
Morning, noon and night.
For animals have feelings too,
And furthermore they bite!

— John Gardner

The Anteater

Anita the anteater loved termites and ants.
She'd never touch turnips;
She wouldn't eat plants.
"Anita, be careful," warned her uncles and aunts;
But Anita was careless; got ants in her pants.

The Bat

When you're outside at night,
Take a look to the sky;
You just might catch sight
Of a bat flying by.

— St. Louis Zoo

The Grizzly Bear

Isabel met an enormous bear,
Isabel, Isabel, didn't care;
The bear was hungry, the bear was ravenous,
The bear's big mouth was cruel and cavernous.
The bear said, Isabel, glad to meet you,
How do, Isabel, now I'll eat you!
Isabel, Isabel, didn't worry.
Isabel didn't scream or scurry.
She washed her hands and she straightened her hair up,
Then Isabel quietly ate the bear up.

—Ogden Nash (from the Adventures Of Isabel)

The Polar Bear

Oh polar bear
With hair so fair,
You love the ice and snow;
But a climate warm
Will do you harm
And you'll have no place to go.

Seals you must slaughter,
Where the ice meets the water,
The bear is 'most always the winner.
The seal must beware,
When she comes up for air,
That the bear doesn't eat her for dinner.

Your claws curved for gripping,
You walk without slipping
On ice floes, a difficult feat;
But summers grow longer,
When ice turns to water;
And its harder to find food to eat.

But if we keep burning carbon,
The Earth will keep warmin';
And days when there's ice will be few.
With the ice gone, I think
You might soon be extinct,
Like dodos and dinosaurs too,

You and I, we both yearn
For cold Earth to return,
One million years hence, maybe two.
A problem to solve;
Maybe we can evolve;
And walk on the ice just like you.

The Brachiosaurus

I'm Brachiosaurus;
I've a long neck and tail;
I can't be extinct,
'Cause I'm too big to fail.

The Bumble Bee

A bumble bee in a humble tree
In summer sun and showers.
He hums a lot, but stumbles not,
As he flits among the flowers.

The Cheetah

Fastest animal in the land,
runs down an antelope for a meal of fresh meat;
But not so fast as we drive our cars,
smashing dogs and cats for the buzzards to eat.

I'd rather sprint like the cheetah on four swift feet,
Than drive 90 miles an hour down a dead-end street.

The Cockroach

The cockroach is somewhat like a mouse.
He'll stealthily infest your house.
He won't make you itch; he won't sting or bite;
He'll just scuttle about when you turn out the light.

The Coronavirus

Bad Coronavirus!
He wants to crawl upon us;
This is how we're gonna keep him off.
We'll wash our hands often,
With soap and warm water;
And cover our mouths when we cough.

Bad coronavirus!
We won't let him get inside us;
I'll tell you how we do this if you ask.
In music and art,
we stay six feet apart;
and we cover our face with a mask.

            Alternative First Verse

Bad Coronavirus!
He wants to climb inside us;
This is how we're gonna keep him out.
We'll wash our hands often,
With soap and warm water;
And when we sneeze we will cover our snout.

The Crocodile

A crocodile sat crying
By the river one fine day.
His tears fell in the water
And were swiftly swept away;

But as he sat there crying,
From the corner of his eye,
He looked around most carefully
To see what would pass by.

Now listen, little children,
Here’s something you should know,
Beware the weeping crocodile,
His tears are just for show!

— R.E. Slater

The Dinosaurs

I'd never dine on dinosaurs,
They can't be good to eat,
For all they've got are lots of bones,
And not a bit of meat.

— Jack Prelutsky

The Dragon

If you don’t believe in dragons,
It is curious, but true
That the dragons you don’t believe in
May choose to not believe in you.

— Jack Prelutsky

The Eagle

"I love you so much!" said the he-gle to his she-gle.
So let us be married, you-gle and me-gle.

The Echidna

The ancient magician said, "Ain't I just fine!"
When he crossed an anteater with a porcupine.

He whooped with joy. "That sure hit the spot.
I made an echidna. I kid you not!"

Giving birth to her babies, she'd scream and she'd shout.
Baby's sharp spines hurt coming out.

The magician replied, "Your pardon I beg."
He crossed her with a chicken; She loved laying eggs.

"I'll need a new home. Danger's everywhere.
There are foxes, coyotes and a great grizzly bear."

"I'm here to protect you; and I'll never fail ya."
The magician flicked his wand, sent echidna to Australia.

Echidna is happy in the land of her dreams.
She's an egg laying mammal, called a monotreme.

The Elephant

When people call this beast to mind,
They marvel more and more
At such a little tail behind,
So large a trunk before.

— Hillaire Belloc

The Fairy

How far and wide the fairies fly
On bright and golden wing;
But when they settle down to sleep
A gentle song they sing.

Sweet Queen of Night, soft silver stars
We're glad you are so near.
We seek our beds; we rest our heads
Without a moment's fear.

On thistledown, in hidden nooks
We watch the waning light.
The joys of sleep upon us creep
We wish you all good night.

— Steven Kroll

The Fennec Fox

The Fennec is smallest of the foxes;
But his ears are finer than the ox's.

The Gazelle

No one can run half as quickly as me,
I’m the galloping gorgeous gazelle.
I can leap up so high
That my horns touch the sky,
And I’m awfully pretty as well.

— Giles Andreae

The Cholera Germ
(vibrio cholerae)

When teachers say, “Go wash your hands,”
Do you ever wonder why?
If you don’t, you might catch cholera
And get very sick inside.

The Giraffe

A giraffe stopped by a willow tree
He stopped to gaze and talk to me.
As he looked down upon my face
His eyes were large, as deep as space,
His eyes engulfed the world so wide,
They held the tree and me inside.

— author unknown

The Gnat

A pesky gnat flew up my nose.
I washed him out with a garden hose.

I washed him out; but now I fear;
That pesky gnat is in my ear.

Next he flew into my eye;
It hurt so bad, it made me cry.

I cried and cried. My clothes were soaked;
And then that gnat flew down my throat.

I'll never see that gnat again.
He's gone for good; and that's the end.

— adapted from a poem by Rosemary Goodnight

The Gorilla

Gorillas are kind and gentle.
They play and have fun in the sun.
They're not like those armed guerrillas,
Who fight and carry a gun.

The Hellbender

An endangered salamander is the hellbender
People are its worst offender.

Destroying the hellbender's habitat.
Polluting the waters with garbage and scat.

It got it's name, sad to tell
Because someone thought it looked like -- well.

But no salamander anywhere is larger or finer
Except the giant salamanders of Japan and China

Bred in captivity at the St. Louis Zoo
Perhaps with help from me and you.

If the hellbender, like us could think.
It would not want to become extinct.

An endangered salamander is the hellbender
Let's all become its best defender.

The Hippopotamus

The lovely hippopotamus,
Like you, and me, he's just like us.

If we were more like hippos, I have a hunch
We'd munch our vegetables, each day for lunch.

The hippopotamus, he's most impressive;
But don't make him angry, he's most aggressive.

He grazes on grasses, loves alfalfa and clover;
But he's built like a tank, and he might run you over.

He looks like a cross between a pig and a horse;
Cousin to the dolphin; and the porpoise, of course.

The Horse

There was a horse named Freedom
That never could be tamed.
Men tried; but couldn't catch him.
That's why Freedom was his name.

They chased him up a canyon,
To a trap that had been laid;
They tried and tried to catch him
But Freedom always got away.

— adapted from a poem by Rosemary Goodnight

The Hummingbird

When flowers are blossoming
And guitars are strumming,
Dancing and singing with bongos a-drumming,
To the heat of the summer the world is succumbing,
That's when you'll know that the hummingbird's coming.

The Iguanodon

Iguanodon, iguanodon,
Whatever made you fade
You've traveled on, iguanadon
I wish you would have stayed.

Iguanodon, iguanodon
You were gentle; you were kind
But now you're gone, iguanodon
And you left your bones behind

— Jack Prelutsky

The Jaguar

A jaguar has power
A jaguar has skill
In order to live
A jaguar must kill

— adapted from a poem by Andres Eduardo Torres

The Kangaroo

Would you like to jump like a kangaroo?
Would you now? Well I would too.
Let's not be tied by society's tether
Let's be kangaroos, and jump together.

The San Quintin Kangaroo Rat

30 years ago, you thought I was extinct;
But here I am, back from the brink.

You plowed my desert, planted your crops;
But you didn't know that the rains would stop.

Your fields dried up; water they lacked;
The desert returned; and now I'm back.

I don't need much water; I like eating seeds;
The food I eat has the water I need.

And I can jump high like a kangaroo.
Yes, I can do many things that you can't do.

The Leprechaun

Leprechauns are little folk.
They'll take you by the hand.
With beauty, charm and treasure
They'll lead you to their little land.

And when you're in the little land,
They'll fill your hands with gold.
You think you'll stay for just a day;
You come out bent and old.

Dead leaves in your pocket,
Oh my enchanted have a care.
Run, run from the little folk;
Or you'll have dead leaves in your pocket and snow flakes in your hair.

— Malvina Reynolds, Little Land (first four lines adapted from Raymond Crooke's introduction)

The Lion

Lion, lion, mighty beast,
Would he eat me for a feast?
Though I know he wouldn’t dare
I’m mighty glad he’s over there.

— Mary Ann Haberman

The Man

Of all the creatures of the air, sea and land
The most dangerous of all is man.

— author unknown

The Medusa

Medusa's a mean nasty crone.
You'd be wise to leave her alone.
With snakes in her hair,
You'd better beware.
Her looks can turn children to stone.

— adapted from a poem by Paul Perro

The Mongoose

The plural of goose is geese.
It says so in my song.
But if I told you there were mongeese,
I would have told you wrong.

Mongooses is plural of mongoose;
Although it's hard to say,
I'm sure that you can do it,
If you practice every day.

Plurals can be lots of fun;
Here's another you can try.
The zoo is the place that you should go
to see hippopotami.

And in the sky each Autumn,
In formation fly the geese;
But no matter how hard you may look,
You won't ever see mongeese.

Monster Mothers

When monster mothers get together,
They brag about their babies.
The other day, I heard one say:
"Mine ate his very first child today."

— Florence Parry Heide

The Newt

I'm a cute little newt.
I live in a boot.
Call me a salamander?
I won't give a hoot.

The Ogre

I came across an ogre's wife
A-sleepin' in a tree
I screamed so loud, I woke her up
And she screamed back at me.

And then I saw the ogre;
He was coming straight for me.
It seems he too had found his wife
A-sleepin' in a tree.

Now listen little children.
Be as quiet as can be;
And don't ever wake an ogre's wife,
When she's sleepin' in a tree.

— adapted from a poem by Rosemary Goodnight

The Ostrich

The ostrich is a silly bird,
With scarcely any mind.
He often runs so very fast,
He leaves himself behind.

And when he stops, he has to stand
And hang around all night,
Without a blessed thing to do
Until he comes in sight.

— Mary E. Wilkins Freeman

The Owl

There was an old owl
Who lived in an oak;
The more he listened,
The less he spoke.
The less he spoke,
The more he heard.
Why aren't we like
That wise old bird?

— author unknown

The Panther
(aka Mountain Lion, Puma, Cougar, Catamount)

If you should hear the cry of a panther,
Run and hide; but do not answer.

— adapted from a poem by Ogden Nash

The Piranha

If you fall into a river that’s full of piranha,
They’ll strip off your flesh like you’d peel a banana.
There’s no time for screaming.
There’s no time for groans.
In 45 seconds you’re nothing but bones.

— Dick King-Smith

The Platypus

Platypus, Platypus,
What could you be?
They say you're a mammal,
But you're nothing like me!

You've a bill like a duck,
You like to lay eggs,
You've poisonous venom,
In spikes on your legs.

Your tail's like a beaver
I think you're quite neat.
You could be an otter,
With webs on your feet.

Yes, they say you're a mammal,
But you're really extreme,
Not a duck or a beaver
You're a monotreme!

— adapted from a poem by Mr. R.

The Porcupine

A porcupine looks somewhat silly.
He also is extremely quilly.
And if he shakes his quills at you,
Or you’ll be quilly, too.

I would not want a porcupine
To be my loving Valentine.

— Karla Kuskin

The Quetzalcoatlus

Quetzalcotalus, king of the sky,
Ruler of all other creature that fly.
A 50-foot wingspan kept him aloft.
His takeoffs were nimble, his landings were soft.

The mightiest flier the world ever knew,
He flew without pilot, copilot or crew.
He banked and he soared over ancient terrain
And never did crash like our modern airplanes.

— adapted from a poem be Jack Prelutsky

The Rhinoceros

Rhinoceros has two horns on his nose;
And four great hooves, each hoof has three toes.
His tail is skinny; his hide is gray;
His temper is short; don't get in his way.
You may want to ride him, like he was a horse;
Some men have tried; most are dead now, of course.

The Roadrunner

The roadrunner is quick and smart.
He's miles away before you start.
At cleaning roads he is a wizard.
He clears out every snake and lizard.
And if poor coyote happens by,
You should see roadrunner fly.

The Seahorse

You have no hooves.
You have no hair.
You don't eat oats.
You don't breathe air.
You hatch from eggs.
You cannot race.
(You have no legs with which to chase.)
Your not a colt, nor mare, nor filly.
Your called a horse.
I call that silly.

— Douglas Florian

The Sea Star

Although it seems
That I'm all arms,
some other organs
Give me charm,
I have a mouth
With which to feed
a tiny stomach
Is all I need.
And though It's true
I have no brain,
I'm still the star—
I can't complain.

— Douglas Florian

The Seismosaurus

Seismosaurus was enormous,
Seismosaurus was tremendous,
Seismosaurus was prodigious,
Seismosaurus was stupendous.

Seismosaurus was titanic,
Seismosaurus was colossal,
Seismosaurus now is nothing
But a monumental fossil.

— Jack Prelutsky

The Shark

A shark is a pet
that you don't want to get.
There is nothing less fun than a shark.
He doesn't have fur.
He won't cuddle or purr,
and he never takes walks in the park.

Instead he just stares
and intensely prepares,
as he circles and waits in the dark,
to nibble your nose
and your fingers and toes,
for his bite is much worse than his bark.

— Kenn Nesbitt

The Snake

The boa constrictor's a slippery snake.
He squashes, then swallows his prey.
He knows that it's not very friendly or kind;
But they do taste much better that way.

— Giles Andreae

The Sneetches

But McBean was quite wrong. I’m quite happy to say
That the Sneetches got really quite smart on that day,
The day they decided that Sneetches are Sneetches
And no kind of Sneetch is the best on the beaches.

— Dr. Seuss

The Spider

She was only a mother spider,
Grown gaunt and fierce and gray,
With her little ones beside her,
Who wept as she sang this lay.

Oh! you mean cruel swatters
That kill off all the flies,
For me and my little children,
Unless we eat we die.

She was only a withered spider,
Feeble and worn and old,
And this is what you did to her,
Fly swatters cruel and cold.

— Don Marquis (adapted from Pity the Poor Spiders)

The Tasmanian Devil

There are weevils in the cotton.
Are there devils at the bottom
Underground in a deep dark well?
Weevils have a mania to live in Transylvania;
But devils in the wild, they live only in Tasmania.
But we have two here in the zoo, I'm glad to tell.

The Tiger

Tyger, Tyger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

— William Blake

The Turtle

All mine! Yertle cried. Oh, the things I now rule!
I'm king of a cow! And I'm king of a mule!
I'm king of a house! And, what's more, beyond that,
I'm king of a blueberry bush and a cat!
I'm Yertle the Turtle! Oh, marvelous me!
For I am the ruler of all that I see!

— Dr. Seuss

The Tyrannosaurus Rex

Tyrannosaurus was a beast.
He had no friends, to say the least.
He ruled the ancient out-of-doors,
and slaughtered other dinosaurs.

— Jack Prelutsky

The Unicorn

A long time ago, when the Earth was green,
There was more kinds of creatures than you’ve ever seen.
They’d run around free, while the Earth was born
And the loveliest of all was the unicorn.

— Shel Silverstein

The Vampire Bat

I love the dark; I live in a cave;
Warm blood is the food I crave.
A goat, a cow, or even a sheep,
I like to feed when my prey's asleep.

They say I can change from man to bat,
That silver and garlic I bristle at;
But I'm just a mammal, like your dog or your cat;
I can't help myself; I'm a vampire bat.

The Warthog

You are ugly said the child.
You should not be in the zoo;
for nobody would want to see
A wretched beast like you.

Hold your silly chattering.
You'll learn this when you're older.
That beauty only can be found
in the eyes of the beholder.

My teeth are white inside my mouth.
You can see them when I smile.
But yours stick out so very far;
They must go half a mile.

Quiet said the warthog.
Think of this and weep.
My beauty lies far down inside;
But yours is just skin deep.

Enough, enough, the keeper cried.
Hold your tongue and freeze it.
For everything has beauty;
But not everybody sees it.

The Whale

Some people go fishing for fish;
Others go wailing for whale;
You might catch a fish with a worm or a wish;
But I catch a whale with a tale.

The Xysticus

Xysticus is a spider,
Who can't spin a spider web;
But would you believe I found him
Searching on the World Wide Web.

The Yak

As a friend to the children commend me the Yak.
You will find it exactly the thing:
It will carry and fetch, you can ride on its back,
Or lead it about with a string.

The Tartar who dwells on the plains of Thibet
(A desolate region of snow)
Has for centuries made it a nursery pet,
And surely the Tartar should know!

Then tell your papa where the Yak can be got,
And if he is awfully rich
He will buy you the creature—or else he will not.
(I cannot be positive which.)

— Hilaire Belloc

The Zebra

I could have been gray like a donkey
Or brown like my cousin the mule;
But instead I have stripes,
Which my lady-friend likes,
Since they make me look handsome and cool.

— Giles Andreae

Back Cover