[book birthday+ giveaway] Chatting with Charles Ghigna about The Father Goose Treasury of Poetry

We’re excited and honored that beloved Alabama poet, author, and intrepid tree house dweller Charles Ghigna is here to tell us all about The Father Goose Treasury of Poetry (Schiffer Kids, 2023), which is officially out today!!!

This 101-poem anthology is a thing of inimitable beauty, magic and wonder. Poems are presented in seven sections: Home, Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall, Animals, and Poetry. All are graced with Sara Brezzi’s evocative, sometimes whimsical mixed media illustrations – a perfect complement to Ghigna’s lovingly crafted verses.

The treasury has a classic feel and belongs on all library, classroom, and home shelves to be savored and shared again and again. It showcases Ghigna’s love of the natural world, his astute powers of observation, and his uncanny ability to capture small fleeting moments that might otherwise be missed.

Kids will delight in the stunning images, wide range of emotions, effortless lyricism and gentle humor. We’re reminded of fresh ways to see the world through a child’s eyes, even learning how chickens really feel about chicken soup, and whether pigs resent barbecue. Irresistible, right?

Let’s find out more from Father Goose himself. Honk!


Charles Ghigna has published more than 100 books and written over 5000 poems for kids and adults. His Random House Step Into Reading titles have sold more than a million copies.

Congratulations on this beautiful new treasury! You must be very proud. 🙂

How did you go about selecting just 101 poems from the thousands you’ve written over the years?

It’s always great fun to test run new poems during my school shows, library visits, and conference talks. I usually know from the crowd’s reaction whether or not new poems touched their hearts or put a smile on their faces. People also come up after my programs and tell me which poems were their favorites.

Hall-Kent ES, Homewood, Alabama, Jan 2023 (photo by Maureen Kelley).

What was the most challenging part of compiling this anthology? 

Which poems to leave out was one of the hardest parts of picking poems for The Treasury. I chose many more poems than I had room for in the book. It often came down to picking dozens of poems on a particular subject, then choosing which one or ones of those that I think children will most enjoy. I also picked poems based on the ebb and flow of the book and how they related to each other.

What did you enjoy most about working on this project?

I enjoyed thinking about how this book might stir children’s imagination, and how it might inspire them to want to read more poetry, and write poems of their own. 

Booksigning, Southern Kentucky Festival of Books, March 2023 (photo by Debra Ghigna).

Did you write any of these poems specifically for this compilation, or were all selected from previously published collections?

I wrote many of these poems specifically for this collection, along with many that have become favorites over the years.

Were you already familiar with Sara Brezzi’s art? 

The editor and I looked at many different artists’ work to see which one might best capture the tone and mood that we wanted for this book. As soon as I saw Sara’s work, I knew she was the one. 

Please comment on three illustrations that especially delighted or moved you, or that made you think of the corresponding poems in new ways.

Ha! That’s like asking me to pick out my favorite children! I love all of Sara’s illustrations! If I had to pick just three, I’d have to say the cover is one of my favorites. It’s truly an original masterpiece and sets the tone for the entire book. The silhouette of the goose flying across the golden moon is breathtaking.

The look of this treasury is unlike any I’ve seen in children’s literature. It is timeless and artistic. Each image borders between the real and the abstract, stirring the imaginations of our readers to “see” beyond the words and images.  

I like the way Sara weaves the theme of the moon and the goose throughout the book beginning with the opening spread that she created for the Home section and the introductory poem “The Poet Tree House.” I love the cozy atmosphere she created with her beautiful papier-mâché goose flying over the top of the trees and the little house with smoke puffing out of the chimney. 

I love the way she pulls back the curtain of the spread with “A Poem Is a Play” and “A Poem Is a Painting,” then gives the reader an extra gift at the end by including two geese flying off the page in the poem “Let’s Build a Poem,” suggesting that the larger goose is Father Goose coaxing the smaller goose to follow him into a new world of poetic wonder and joy where they will build new poems together. 

You have mastered the technique of writing “short and simple” without being simplistic. What tips can you offer for creating lyrical verses that appeal to kids?

Thank you so much for that generous compliment, Jama. Poems allow us to say a lot in a few words. It is a fun challenge for the poet to make those few words memorable by choosing melodic words to make the poem sing.

The budding poet at age 9.

How do you keep things fresh?

I try to avoid cliches and use original language and rhymes whenever possible, without calling too much attention to the language. I try to include something special and surprising in each poem, no matter its length. Turning an original phrase is not always easy, but it is those kinds of little surprises that keep the reader, and the writer, interested! 

One of the tree house’s resident geese with Charles’s first published book, Tickle Day: Poems from Father Goose (1994).

What was the very first children’s poem you ever published? What do you remember about writing and submitting it? 

I wrote “Mother of the Night” in 1983. It was published in Humpty Dumpty magazine in 1984. The editor at the time was the amazing Christine Cully, who is now the editor of Highlights for Children. She and many other editors who believed in my work over the years are listed in the dedication of The Treasury.

This poem is also included in the new Treasury.

What food inspires your best work?

I love your questions, Jama! No one ever asks such delicious questions! I could be glib here and say that the food that inspires my best work is food for thought! But I’ll resist that urge to be too corny here. Oops! Too late. 

Seriously, my favorite food besides just about every kind of pastry, is Chinese and Thai food.

In fact, I’m taking Debra out to our favorite Thai restaurant tomorrow to celebrate my completion of a new manuscript this week, a YA novel in verse!

Lucy, the most recent addition to Pa Goose’s gaggle.

Which three favorite poets from the past would Father Goose most like to invite for tea? 

Oh my goodness! Another one of your great questions, Jama! If I may, I would love to have tea with three adult poets and three poets for children. My three adult tea party poets would be Edna St. Vincent Millay, Sara Teasdale, and Elinor Wylie. My children’s poets would be Robert Louis Stevenson, Shel Silverstein, and Lee Bennett Hopkins. I had many wonderful phone chats with Lee, but never got to meet him. His infectious laughter still rings in my ears. 

Bring on the baklava!

What treats would you serve?

I would serve baklava at my adult tea party and apricot danish pastries at my children’s poets party. What would YOU serve?

Pastry is the perfect palate pleaser for poets.

Anything else you’d like us to know about this book?

I hope it has a long and happy life and will provide children and young families with lots of cozy reading time for generations to come.

What’s next for you?

I have two new books coming next year and three more signed for 2025. The 2024 books include one about an adorable panda cub named Pandora who discovers a magic box. The other 2024 book is based on my family history and my great grandfather. It is set during the turn of the century when an Italian boy named Carlo who comes to America to begin a new life as a bookbinder. It is titled Bound to Dream.


🍵 A Cuppa for Charles 🎂

Well, such a fine new treasury calls for a celebration! All this talk of tea and pastries has made us absolutely ravenous.

This seems like the right time to remind everyone that Charles Ghigna was one of the original Alphabet Soup HoTEAs of Children’s Poetry back in 2015. Can’t believe it’s been 8 years since we featured him with, of all people, Lee Bennett Hopkins. All this time I had assumed the two poetry giants had met in person.

One-a-pastry, two-a-pastry, three-a-pastry, four. Eat one too many and we’ll show you the door. 😀

When I heard about the new Treasury, I thought it might be nice to interview Charles. I’d previously reviewed a couple of his books but never had a chance to ask him any questions. It’s been such fun chatting with him; there’s always something new to learn about someone, isn’t there?

Just for the occasion, Mr Cornelius brewed a pot of Uncle Lee’s Organic Green Tea, cited by Charles as one of his favorites. And of course we’re serving up an assortment of baklava and fruit Danish, including apricot. 🙂

Please help yourself to tea and treats and raise your cups in honor of Charles’s book birthday. While you’re sipping and nibbling, enjoy feasting on a mini sampler of poems from the new book.



A song of color.
A rainbow of sound.
A locket of memory.
A future found.



A poem is a spiderweb
Spun with words of wonder.
Woven lace held in place
By whispers made of thunder.



All around

Walking fast
Or slow,

Take me everywhere

I ever want
To go!



Shadows on the sidewalk
Make patterns of the leaves,
Shades of lace gently traced
Around the morning trees.


Night rain tiptoes down the street
Softly to a gentle beat,
Drums upon my windowpane,
Washes darkness down the drain.



My house is as dark
As a midnight lake,
A party of candles
Without a cake.


🎉 Congratulations, Charles! 🎈


THE FATHER GOOSE TREASURY OF POETRY: 101 Favorite Poems for Children
written by Charles Ghigna
illustrated by Sara Brezzi
published by Schiffer Kids, April 28, 2023
Poetry Anthology for ages 5-9, 128pp.

♥️ More Charles Ghigna at Alphabet Soup:

Review of Illusions: Poetry & Art for the Young at Heart (with art by Chip Ghigna).

Review of The Night the Forest Came to Town (with art by Annie Wilkinson)

Sample poems from Dear Poet: Notes to a Young Writer



The publisher is generously offering a copy of The Father Goose Treasury of Poetry for one lucky Alphabet Soup reader. For a chance to win, please leave a comment at this post no later than midnight (EDT), Wednesday, May 3, 2023. You may also enter by sending an email with FATHER GOOSE in the subject line to: readermail (at) jamakimrattigan (dot) com. Giveaway open to U.S. residents only, please. Good Luck!


The lovely and talented Ruth Hersey is hosting the Roundup at There’s no such thing as a God-forsaken town. Be sure to check out the full menu of poetic goodness being served up around the blogosphere this week. Can’t believe NPM is ending already! Enjoy your weekend.

*Interior spreads text copyright © 2023 Charles Ghigna, illustrations © 2023 Sara Brezzi, published by Schiffer Kids. All rights reserved.

**Copyright © 2023 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

54 thoughts on “[book birthday+ giveaway] Chatting with Charles Ghigna about The Father Goose Treasury of Poetry

    1. Thank you, Jama! Again, I am overwhelmed by the love and magic you put into curating your blog, the most beautiful internet offering in all of the children’s literature! The magic that pours from your imagination unto the page is a wonder to behold. I am always in awe of the spell you cast, and so grateful to bask in the glow of the light you have shone to our new Treasury. Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for the kind words, and to you and Sara for creating such a wonderful treasury. Enjoyed chatting with you and finding out more. Of course baklava and apricot Danishes will never be the same. I like your tea party guests too. 🙂


  1. Jama, I adore Charles’ work. His style of writing is always full of joy and wonder with a touch of surprise. This book will be a stunning addition to his prolific writings for children. I have always loved his pseudonym, Father Goose. It provides a look back on childhood for adults with a warm, cozy feeling of familiarity for children. I will stop by Charles’ website to ask if he has a poem in his pocket to place in my Springsations Gallery. After all, he has been featured before. Thank you for providing a few moments of peaceful joy as I start my day. Does Mr. Cornelius have a favorite poem or photo to add to my Gallery? Maybe a tea party photo will be appropriate.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Congratulations Charles on this gorgeous poetry book, what a delight you’ve offered us in thoughts and the beautifully rich art too! 🎉🦋🎈🐝🥳 I think I may have to crash your tea parties especially since Edna St. Vincent Millay and Shel Silverstein will be there. I’m truly looking forward to this new book, thanks so much Jama for all your special touches here and the scrumptious offerings!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Congratulations to Charles, and Sara, for creating this special gathering of poetry for everyone, and for the delightful interview, Jama. I enjoyed every part and adore “The Poet Tree House” – wow! and “Mother of The Night”, another ‘moon’ poem! The goose keeping watch throughout the book is a loving detail. Don’t put me in the drawing; my copy will be here soon (I hope!)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love this post Jama, and I love Charles’ work. He served as inspiration for one of my books, as you know! Please convey to him that I shall make the baklava (Yaya’s divine recipe), and we can sit and enjoy coffee and talk about the joys of poetry. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Charles, my book of poems before my most recent, called “Marrow of Summer” has an epigraph from you–and it really speaks to the whole collection! Jama did a wonderful blog post about the book; you can find it on her site! Best of luck to you with this marvelous new book!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh, Jama, this is a favorite post of yours for me. I agree with Father Goose, the questions you ask are great fun. The photos and tea party are stunning. I’m having a cup of chai with my baklava this morning. I think I’m going to love the ars poetica poems the most. The spiderweb and song poems took my breath. I also liked Mother Nature changing what she is wearing. Thanks for this lovely post.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I enjoyed this interview so much and can’t wait to add this book to my shelf! It would be so fun to have a dinner party with everyone mentioned. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I was a lucky reader who had the treasury show up a few days early, and I have been happily swimming in Father Goose’s poems. What a delight! Thank you, Charles. And thanks, Jama, for the terrific interview — you really do ask the most wonderful questions!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. (throwing confetti and smiling…) YAY! I’ve been so looking forward to this book and to this interview. Received a notice this a.m. that my signed copy from Alabama is en route! Thank you, Charles and Jama – what a tribute to years of high flying and probably an occasional ruffled feather. The art by Sara Brezzi looks absolutely exquisite… & how lovely that the moon has been a theme from the beginning!
    The picture of Lee is bittersweet, of course – I didn’t realize you two had never met in person. On a lighter ‘Lee’ note, Uncle Lee’s Organic Green Tea is a staple here, too! ;0) Congrats again, Charles!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Such a sweet volume! I can’t wait to get my copy. I still miss Lee Bennett Hopkins’ comments on Facebook. We’ve lost so many giants over the past couple of years, that I’ve been forced to conclude that we’ve been living in a golden age of literature. Congrats on the new publication!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Thank you everyone for your comments! And thank you, JAMA! Again, I am overwhelmed by the love and magic you put into curating your blog, the most beautiful internet offering in all of the children’s literature! The magic that pours from your imagination unto the page is a wonder to behold. I am always in awe of the spell you cast, and so grateful to bask in the glow of the light you have shone to our new Treasury. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. This interview is a complete delight. I agree that the illustrator’s style fits perfectly with the poetry. I’ve already snagged ‘Mother of the Night’ for next year’s Poetry Pandemonium at school. Charles’ answers to Jama’s questions are fun and light-hearted but also informative for poets. Keeping poetry simple for child readers without being too simple in idea is a challenge and the poems presented here are spot-on. Thank you both for letting us in on your conversation.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Thanks so much for sharing this, Jama – and congrats to you, Charles! I’m so happy for you, my friend. And so honored to be able to collaborate with you on our multiple manuscripts. I can’t wait to read your collection!


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