children's books, courage, dragons, Family, Ogden Nash, poetry


I can’t remember a time when someone didn’t read to me or encourage me to do so on my own. My brother and I spent our early years in the company of Uncle Wiggily, Christopher Robin, Winnie the Pooh & friends, Alice, Dorothy and a host of characters in The Golden Book of Poetry.
The poetry book was filled with colorful illustrations and poems that danced across the pages in a rhythm and rhyme that tickled us. We each had our favorites that we went back to over and over. By the time my children came along, that beloved volume was in tatters, so I invested in a new edition and shared the familiar poems with them. Although it’s now held together by packing tape, I still  occasionally bring out The Golden Book of Poetry to read “The Tale of Custard, the Cowardly Dragon” by Ogden Nash.

The poem tells the story of Custard, a cowardly dragon, who lives in a little white house with Belinda and her little black cat, Ink; a little gray mouse, Blink; and a little yellow dog, Mustard. Belinda and crew fancy themselves as brave as a barrel full of bears, tigers in a rage, and believe they can chase lions down the stairs. Their favorite pastime is to sit in her little red wagon and tease Custard because he cries for a nice safe cage. But when a nasty pirate invades that little white house, guess which characters hide and which one rises to the challenge? It’s a great story about overcoming your fears to save the people you love.

There was a time when I could quote “The Tale of Custard the Cowardly Dragon” by heart, but it’s under copyright, so I won’t do that here. And truth be told, now I could only regale you in part. But if you Google “The Tale of the Cowardly Dragon,” you can read the entire poem on Keith’s Poetry Archive page.

Amazon offers The Tale of Custard the Dragon as a single volume featuring illustrations by Lynn Munsinger. If you have small children or grandchildren, buy it for them. It will make you laugh. It will make them giggle. You’ll find yourselves going to it again and again for the sheer joy of Ogden’s poetry and whimsical tale!

 What was your favorite children’s book or poem?


God is the perfect poet. Robert Browning