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A Stick Is an Excellent Thing: Poems Celebrating Outdoor Play
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A Stick Is an Excellent Thing: Poems Celebrating Outdoor Play

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  333 Ratings  ·  90 Reviews
A paean to play from an award-winning poet and a New York Times best-selling illustrator.  The trappings of childhood change from generation to generation, but there are some timeless activities that every kid loves. Marilyn Singer and LeUyen Pham celebrate these universal types of play, from organized games such as hide-and-seek and hopscotch to imaginative play such as m ...more
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published February 28th 2012 by Clarion Books
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Mar 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
If the helicopter parents don't smother `em then the death of recess by test-minded schools will. Kids today have a heck of a time playing like they used to. Excuse me while I pull out my Crusty Old Fogey Hat which allows me to lament an era where kids gets their afternoons booked up and their free time minimized. I freely acknowledge that this is hardly a universal problem, but it does exist in some places. There are kids out there who would give anything just to run down their block without ha ...more
Jun 28, 2013 rated it liked it
This one was just okay for me. I wasn't really a fan of the illustrations -- though I really loved the one for "Bubbles" Also, I guess I was hoping for more poems about imaginative sort of outdoor play vs. games and things like that. Though nothing wrong with games ;-) Also the poetry didn't really grab me, but I really am not a good judge of poetry's merits, it's just my personal taste. I think my favorite poems were "Stargazing" and "Sprinkler"
Codi Rinehart
Nov 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: elm-572
This book is a great read! It is a very exciting poetry book for children. This book has many different short poems throughout the book that all discuss different outdoor play activities that children can part take in. It talks about everything from jump roping and hopscotch, to rolling down hills and using sticks as magic wands! The amount of imagination involved in these activities really shows how creative children can be and how important it is for them to be outdoors and using their brains ...more
One more, please!
Apr 27, 2017 rated it liked it
Mediocre poetry, my kids were not impressed.
538am_Kelly O'Hara
Sep 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Children will enjoy this light, lyrical poetry book that celebrates all kinds of outdoors activities from jumping over puddles to chasing fireflies. Hopefully kids will relate to these simple, timeless games but for those who do not spend enough time outdoors, it might spark a desire to give it a try. Adults will remember playing these games and hopefully will allow more opportunity to their children. There are no electronics or other modern forms of entertainment and look, the kids are having f ...more
Paul  Hankins
Children's outside games are presented in Singer's wonderful, poetic voice that captures what it feels like to be a kid playing outside. Adults might like this collection for its nostalgic feel. I mean, who can forget coming out of the store with their very own plastic bottle of bubbles knowing that once they were home, they could open it, pull out that plastic stick and fill the back yard with bubbles?

A celebration of activity and imagination. Like others here, I wanted to celebrate the illustr
Nov 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
Our girls have amazing imaginations and can make a stick or a cardboard box, (or a paper towel tube, or popsicle sticks, etc.) into just about anything. They love to run and play outside and come up with the craziest ideas and inventions. I just love it. This book celebrates all that.

I love that the poems and the illustrations that show the wonderful ways in which children can play outside. And our girls were certainly inspired by the different ideas presented. We really enjoyed reading this boo
Jim Erekson
Feb 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picturebooks, poetry
Another very good collaboration between a poet and illustrator. The illustrations are complementary. I do think, however, that having the illustrations makes it SO hard to think about trying to memorize the poem. It makes it belong in the book, and to me the key thing about poetry is getting it unbound when you find something you like. Several poems hark to playground language play. Some feature time-tested games from children's folklore, and others just show kids being playful because they're o ...more
Feb 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, ncbla2013
Sometimes with the allure of indoor games, it seems that playing outdoors is a thing of the past, and these 18 poems serve as a reminder of just how much fun those outdoor games can be. All it takes is a little imagination and a simple object or two, and youngsters may enjoy playing catch, jacks, jumping rope, or even rolling down a grassy hill. My favorite poem was the title poem "A Stick Is an Excellent Thing" because it points out all the possible uses for the perfect stick you might find and ...more
Franki Sibberson
Feb 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012, poetry
I like the whole idea of this collection--playing outside. It isn't the poems individually as much as the collection together that makes me really like it. And I love the author/illustrator duo.
Alyson (Kid Lit Frenzy)
Jan 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, 2012, picture-book
Children will enjoy this book of poetry on outdoor play.
Jun 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
2015 NCTE award-winning author and poet Marilyn Singer uses poetry to engage children in the many wonderful ways to play outside.

Coupled with detailed, playful illustrations by LeUyen Pham, this poetry picture book inspires children to see fun and excitement in the world around them. In a time when digital toys and games often occupy children's attention, a book emphasizing the importance and possibility of imaginative play seems important and relevant.

Each poem describes a different type of o
RLL22018 Danielle Razo
Jun 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
I thought this book was a delightful ode to outdoor play. The rhymes make the book adorable, but the message is my favorite. We live in a time where test scores are ingrained in a child's mind. We forgot that kids learn through play. Moreover, kids also need a break from all the learning. Kids will be in school until their mid to late twenties, or more. Why not give children a memorable childhood by letting them play with bubbles or having a water balloon fight? I would read this book to pre-k t ...more
Mar 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Poetry: A Stick is an Excellent Thing, By Marilyn Singer
I enjoyed reading the many different types of ways children play and have a fun time. It is a diverse book. The age for this book is 4-7 years old. The images encourage people to play outside, you see the children smile, jump, laugh, swing, and have a good time. That is one of my favorite parts of the book. The images go with the dialogue. There is good vocabulary in this book, it also repeats some words several times, so that children who
Reynianne Martinez
Dec 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
This book includes poems about children playing games such as hide-and-seek, hopscotch, imaginative play such as making mud soup or turning a stick into a magic wand.

I love this book because the illustrations are nice, big, and they capture the energy of the children at play. This book is just great for getting children outside instead of sitting behind video games. The best thing is that these games don't cost anything. I recommend this book for grades K-2.

With this book I would create a less
Melissa Hicks
May 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Such a wonderful read to get you back into your roots and discover the things that haven’t changed for children today since we as adults were growing up. The values of outdoor play and imagination is transformed through this picture book of poetry with rich language and descriptions that take you back into the experience of these various activities.
Raven Cleveland
Nov 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
On a hot summer day, children revel in the joys of free outdoor play, with no computer screens or electrical outlets in sight.
Rahiel Woldu
Jan 14, 2015 rated it liked it
A Stick Is an Excellent Thing: Poems Celebrating Outdoor Play

The variety of poems that embody the same theme – ‘celebrating outdoor play’ - make outdoor play, e.g. hopscotch, more appealing to children from a young age. This could partake in combating the growing number of children who prefer staying indoors to interact or play using technology.

The fact that the book focuses on integrating poetry with play makes it all the more stimulating for children, especially in KS1 and lower KS2. I think t
Marilyn Singer, a renowned poet, offers 18 poems involving outdoor play with games like double-dutch, hop-scotch, monkey in the middle, and swinging on the swings. What I loved was how this is not a collection of poems that excludes the urban landscape with its expanse of pavement, sidewalks, stoops, and diverse population. The poems vary, and some were more difficult for me to read aloud than others (more to do w/ my pronunciation, no doubt). My favorite poem was “Upside Down” and the book clos ...more
Feb 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
Personal response: I enjoyed this book of poetry because it encourages something I think is really important for kids: outdoor play. It is special for me because it makes me remember my childhood when i did all the things the poems talk about like monkey in the middle, jump rope, blowing bubbles, playing hopscotch, etc.

1. Enrichment/Enjoyment
-Kids in K-2nd grade will love this book because it relates to something that is relevant in their lives right as that moment.
-If I used this boo
Kaley Robinson
Feb 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Personal response- I thought this was a good book to relate to. All the poems are about being outside or things like summer break. It makes me antsy because I really want to be outside. I remember blowing bubbles and climbing in the trees when I was younger. I think this would be a great read for anyone because it really shows how to have fun outside or with other people.

Read aloud for enrichment
-Students can relate to these poems because they all deal with being outside and the fun thin
Jun 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
I loved reading this story and have already put this on my list of books to order with my school librarian. As a preschool teacher, I always look for new types of texts and with poetry being a harder type of book sometimes to find with this age, I was very happy to find this throughout the websites provided. I love the idea that this poetry book celebrates the traditions of play outside. I think this is something that is so important for our children to be exposed to, especially when they live i ...more
Matthew Hunter
Jun 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
The illustrator of A Stick Is an Excellent Thing, LeUyen Pham, also illustrated Desmond Tutu's excellent picture book God's Dream. She's a rock star! In the end, it was the illustrations I enjoyed most about this book. Sigourney's favorite illustration? A close-up of a girl hanging upside-down on the jungle gym. Her head's drawn right-side up with the rest of the world upside-down, a semi-point-of-view shot of the world from her perspective. The drawing of kids on a swing set ran a close second. ...more
I read this poetry anthology as a memoir, filled with joyful poems about activities mostly outdoors that don’t often happen anymore, like playing jacks or hopscotch, at least not in my recent experience. I wish kids did play outside as much as the poems and illustrations show. Yet, there are joyful games that I hope some kids are playing, like double-dutch/jump rope, monkey in the middle/a basketball game, and playing hide-n-seek. The drawings are joyful depictions of each activity, placing the ...more
Carly Kovatch
Feb 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A Stick is an Excellent Thing is a wonderful collection of poems about the classic and imaginative outdoor play of children. From hopscotch and blowing bubbles to catching fireflies and playing hide and seek, these poems provide insight into the world of a child in the natural setting around them. The soft, colorful and playful illustrations add to the excitement of the rhyme. Children from a wide range of ethnicities are very tastefully and accurately represented throughout the book. There is a ...more
Awards: None

Appropriate grade level: Preschool- 3rd grade

Summary: This is a book that talks about school being over and children getting outside to play. It shows how excited these children get to play outside and the games that they play. Anywhere from hide-and-seek to double dutch jump rope, these children spend as much time outside as possible.

Review: This book has incredible illustrations that show the importance of children playing outside. It makes any child want to run outside or to the
Victoria (Tory) Fairclough
Apr 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: rll
Written by Marilyn Singer and illustrated by LeUyen Phan, this book brings to life childhood games through poems and illustrations. The book goes through a list of outdoor activities from childhood favorites like, monkey in the middle, jacks, hide-and-seek, as well as other outdoor actives like swings and sprinklers. With warm weather coming, I think this is a great book to read to children to give them ideas for fun outdoor activities. The poems accompanied by the illustrations really bring the ...more
Jun 10, 2013 rated it liked it
I enjoyed the illustrations in this book quite a bit. All of these poems are about outdoor games...some of which I've played and some I haven't. I appreciate that there is an emphasis on using imagination...such as in "A Stick is an Excellent Thing" where the stick is used as a scepter for a king, a magic wand, to draw with and to strum a fence. Also, with it being summertime....this may give my children/other children some ideas of what to do outside during the summer.
Michele Knott
Fantastic book of poetry. All of the poems focus on different outdoor play - bubbles, jumping rope, hopscotch, swinging, monkey in the middle...
Kids will have a lot of schema for the different activities mentioned! There are a variety of "types" of poems presented, as well. Wonderful book to be included in a poetry unit. The illustrations are wonderful as well.
Check out this book, especially to introduce kids to a different genre!
Apr 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
These short poems are pretty special. I instantly thought of my summers as a kid doing all of those fun things outside, and wishing I could still just do that all day in the summer now (ha!). It's a really joyful paean to play. I also loved the illustrations and that it features a multicultural array of kids.
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Marilyn Singer was born in the Bronx (New York City) on October 3, 1948 and lived most of her early life in N. Massapequa (Long Island), NY. She attended Queens College, City University of New York, and for her junior year, Reading University, England. She holds a B.A. in English from Queens and an M.A. in Communications from New York University.

In 1974, after teaching English in New York City hig
More about Marilyn Singer