Sheila R. Davidson, editor,
God's Greatest Gift -- Grandparents
(American Literary Press, 2002)

As a lover of poetry and an adorer of children, I wanted to like this poetry compilation. Unfortunately, I didn't. At all.

God's Greatest Gift presents itself as a hard-bound gold-embossed coffeetable edition of poems, which smacks of the aura of the infamous International Library of Poetry or "" Like anthologies, God's Greatest Gift is a result of winning "poetry contest" entries. It also publishes poems without payment to the poet and attempts to sell the book back to the poet for $49.95.

The anthology's lead poem seemed mature for an 8-year-old, and I at once recalled a poem that spoke about the "dash" between date of birth and death. While this is not that particular poem, certainly, parts and/or sentiments seem to have originated from that verse. But that was just the first thorn. As could be expected, when you have 248 pages of poetry about grandparents written by children, themes and thoughts repeat over and over and over and over and over and over again. Consider "Grandparents are so sweet, / they give me tasty things to eat" and "Grandparents are nice. / Mine always send me candy."

Looking at this book from a business standpoint, while these children's efforts certainly merit commendation and praise, few rise to the standards for publication in a bound book. As a book, this compilation proves extremely difficult to endure.

I suppose that it would be difficult to edit a child's poems without hurting their feelings (one can hardly edit an adult's work without hurt feelings, nevermind a child who has little understanding of the industry); however, the poems need editing and selective publication.

I would like to believe that I made a snap judgment about the book. However, the more I read, the more I became certain that this publisher accepted each and every entry, no matter how worthy, and then preyed upon the parents of the little tykes to buy the book, either for themselves or for the grandparents as a gift. While the guidelines to the contest state that the poet is under no obligation to buy the book, how many parents could turn their back on their child's first published poem? Likely, not many. With two to three poems on each page of 248 pages, I'm sure that the publisher has an ample target group to profit from.

While grandparents are "God's Greatest Gift," this poetry compilation, while special to the individual poets and the grandparents that inspired them, isn't.

[ by Lynne Remick ]
Rambles: 15 February 2002