A Poetry Interlude, Illustrated

Quinn doesn’t like to speak in front of people, especially in class at school. So when I found out that every other month he would have to memorize and perform a poem in front of his reading class, I had one of those die-a-little-inside moments.

I knew that Quinn often freezes then meltdowns if asked to do so much as read in front of the class, so I knew the fastest way to send him into a panic was to make him perform—with props and emotion—something he’d memorized.

I contacted his teacher, asking for an accommodation. I suggested that he be able to do it just for her and not in front of the class. She came back with a suggestion that he do it at home and I videotape it.

Boom. That is how you teach kids who learn differently.

I was thrilled. Quinn was relieved, but still worried. He didn’t think he could memorize a whole poem. We worked on two lines a night and by the end of the month, he (and the rest of the family) had his whole poem memorized. We taped it and he got the highest score possible. He was so damn proud.

That was October. This month he had to do another one. All of the poems to choose from were either longer or more complicated than the one he’d picked for October. I was worried. Quinn ended up picking “The Lion” by Roald Dahl.

I felt good about his choice because it’s a funny little poem that I thought would make Quinn laugh. Unfortunately I didn’t think about the fact that there is basically a complicated list within the poem that made it tough for him to keep things in the right order.

To help him, I suggested that he draw some pictures of the subject of that list so he could keep the order straight while he was trying to memorize. Then he could use the pictures as props when performing the poem for the camera.

Quinn doesn’t want me to post the video on the internet, but he told me I could post his pictures. So. Without further ado, I present to you “The Lion” by Roald Dahl as illustrated by Quinn.

Screen capture of Quinn in his YouTube video holding up a picture he drew of "roasted lamb."

This screen capture is the closest I can ethically come to posting Quinn’s video. Isn’t he cute?

The lion just adores to eat
A lot of red and tender meat
And if you ask the lion what
Is much the tenderest of the lot,
He will not say a roast of lamb

A pencil drawing of a lamb face inside a flame.

See how the lamb is on fire? He’s roasting. (Oh yeah. It’s about to get intense up in here.)

Or curried beef

Pencil drawing of a cow with the words "curried beef" above it.

I didn’t really know how to advise Quinn to draw curried beef so he just drew a really cute cow.

or devilled ham

Pencil drawing of a pig head with devil horns.

Don’t mess with Devil Pig.

Or crispy pork

Pencil drawing of a pig head with an exclamation point over his head. He is also inside a flame.

I think—THINK—that the pig is alarmed to be on fire.

or corned beef hash

Drawing of a cow with a corn cob body. Quinn has labeled the body with "corn" just in case there is any doubt.

This is another one of those hard-to-draw ones. I think Quinn came up with an excellent idea of how to illustrate it.

Or sausages

Drawing of a conveyor belt with a machine in the middle. Visible in front of the machine is half a pig. Sausages are coming out the back.

And that’s how sausages are made out of pigs.

or mutton mash.

Drawing of a lamb being crushed (or mashed if you prefer) by a mallet from the ceiling.

This one took me a minute to get, but I think it’s one of my favorites. (See that lamb getting mashed?)

Then could it be a big plump hen?

Drawing of a hen.

I don’t think I need to explain this one.

He answers no. What is it, then?
Oh, lion dear, could I not make
You happy with a lovely steak?

Drawing of a steak with the words "lovely steak" written above it. There is a heart floating above the steak.

I like the simplicity of this one.

Could I entice you from your lair
With rabbit pie or roasted hare?

Both rabbit pie and roasted hare are on this one. The roasted hare is on fire on a spit. For the pie, well, there is a rabbit sticking out of a pie.

I think Quinn got tired of drawing here at the end. I even had to remind him to put long ears on his bunnies.

The lion smiled and shook his head.
He came up very close and said,
‘The meat I am about to chew
Is neither steak nor chops. IT’S YOU.’

I feel as if Mr. Dahl would be proud. I hope his teacher likes it as much as I do.

14 thoughts on “A Poetry Interlude, Illustrated

  1. Hi! Just catching up….
    Love Quinn’s illustrations, AND that the teacher is able to adapt the learning activity to students’ needs.
    The pictures of the kids, and the gerbils, are simply adorable. I’m kinda with the cats on your choice of floor lamps. :)
    Wish I’d asked whether you were running the Turkey Chase — we could have said Hi! I volunteered this year, and it was fun! I recall races as being very loud [have mentioned this before]; this one was manageable. Especially liked that they played Pharrell’s Happy, which makes me smile. [You might have been running at the time.]

  2. I have the same problem as Quinn with public speaking. I loved the illustrations maybe Quinn could be an illustrator for a children’s book.

  3. I love the deviled Ham!!! I have three sons with autism and my oldest one LOVES to videotape everything and make videos. Your sons teacher sounds amazing to work with you so well and be so considerate. Your blog is awesome!

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