reviews and stories about parenting with picture books

A Small Child’s Poem about Grandpa/Bubba Bear


If you know my Dad, Bubba isn’t exactly the nickname you’d expect, but he has worn it graciously (and dare I say, with pride?) since my daughter gave it to him about two yeas ago.

“Bubbaing” involves parks, feeding Pax, smelling plants, hunting for pinecones, worms and pebbles, talking walks, teasing, playing, playing (Bubba never stops playing!) and of course, reading books.

We like to read books about him, too.

As I’ve written several times, A Small Child’s Book of Cozy Poems (Cartwheel Books/Scholastic, 1999) is an essential book for every bedtime basket.

Illustrated by Cyndy Szekeres, the pictures are so “cozy” that I get warm fuzzies in my tummy every time I look at them.

Three poems, and their illustrations, really make the fuzzies fly:

“Sleeping Outdoors”

Under the dark is a star,

Under the star is a tree,

Under the tree is a blanket,

And under the blanket is me.

–Marchette Chute

The two-page illustration for this poem is its exact visual counterpart. The top fourth of the page is the dark sky speckled with stars, then a tree with a mama and daddy bunny looking out/up and to the left of them, a little boy bunny, snuggling safely under a blanket, fast asleep.

On the same spread:


I’m glad the stars are over me

And not beneath my feet,

Where we could trample on them

Like cobbles on the street.

I think it is a happy thing

That they are set so far;

It’s best to have to look up high

When you would see a star.


For years, this was a book for my daughter and me.

She is my kitten in “My Kitten”; she is the middle-sized family member in “My Family”; she is the little child who says, “How splendid it is/ To hear someone say/ There will be pancakes/ For breakfast today,” in “Morning”; and together, we read and waited for the long drawn-out closing on our house reading, “Home! You’re Where It’s Warm Inside.”

Like Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes, A Small Child’s Cozy Book of Poems made the emotional journey from my daughter’s bedtime basket to my son’s (although it is known to sometimes sneak its way back for a few good reads), several months ago.

Now this book is for my son and me.

He is my little dog in “My Little Dog,” and the little boy/puppy preparing for bedtime in “Bedtime.”

About a month ago, it became not just about how I connected the poems to our life, but about how my son connected the poems to his.

I opened the book to “Grandpa Bear’s Lullaby” and my then 17-month-old said, “Bubba! Bubba!”

What could he mean?

“Bubba! Bubba!”

Ah hah!

The bespectacled Grandpa Bear in the picture was, for my son, his Bubba.

Now, when we pick A Small Child’s Cozy Book of Poems my son immediately says, “Bear! Bear!” We turn to the newly nicknamed “Bubba Bear” poem and read:

“Grandpa Bear’s Lullaby”

The night is long

But fur in deep.

You will be warm

In winter sleep.

The cave is dark

But dreams are bright

And they will serve

As winter light.

Sleep, my little cubs, sleep.

–Jane Yolen

Safe travels, Bubba.

P.S. You probably recognize the name Jane Yolen. She’s the author of many picture books, including How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight–another favorite for another post on another day. 

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