About Dennis Lee

Dennis Lee (b. 1939) has written more than thirty books of poetry for adults and children and been awarded many prizes for his writing. Dennis has said that when he started writing poems for children he realised there weren't any about his native city, Toronto in Canada, so he set about changing that – many of the poems he's written refer to the place names, landmarks and rhythms of his city, and to Canada more generally, such as 'Bump On Your Thumb' with its brilliant refrain of 'tickle my tum in Toronto'. Dennis has done so much to help make Toronto a poetic place that he was made its first ever Poet Laureate in 2001. As well as writing essays, translations and prose books, Dennis has worked in film and music, including writing the lyrics for the much-loved Jim Henson show Fraggle Rock and contributing to the script of the David Bowie-starring Labyrinth.

The poems Dennis has recorded for the Children's Poetry Archive demonstrate his enormous range of interest and the delightful energy, musicality and enthusiasm of his work. His poem 'Alligator Pie' has become a children's anthem across the world, a poem known by heart by millions of readers young and old, thanks in part to its instantly memorable rhythm. Dennis explains in his introduction to the poem that it came to him one day while he was out riding his bicycle, its words running to the same beat as his feet on the pedals.

One of Dennis's nicknames in Canada is 'Father Goose', because of the countless nursery rhymes he's written – a gathering of five of these are collected together under the 'Father Goose' title, all showing off his playfulness and his perfect ear for pacing and placing sounds to make them sing from the 'tip of the top of the tree'. If his nursery rhymes are musical, some of his other work practically bursts into tune, such as 'Bundle-buggy Boogie', a swinging, bustling poem which makes jazz from the place names of the far north of Canada, as well as letting us in on the secret of what happens when bundle-buggies (shopping trolleys) get together.

Dennis's poems for children cover a whole range of ideas, styles and ages. The poems which form this sampler go from those at the beginning which are aimed at very little people to those for more grown-up children, with deliciously naughty tales of 'guck' and 'yuck' at mealtime in 'Tricking' to the hilarious and hungry story of 'Lizzy's Lion' and its run-in with a hapless burglar who doesn't know its 'secret lion name'. There are also quieter pieces, about 'The Secret Place' of the imagination where 'nobody else can be', and others perfect for bedtime, such as 'The Coming of Teddy Bears' and 'The Wizard', a magical tale about learning how to 'rise and fly away' which ends softly, with a whisper.

Dennis Lee’s reading was recorded at Morph Productions in Toronto on September 28th 2017 with Ashton Price as producer.

Jelly Belly: Dennis Lee, 1985

Melvis and Elvis: Dennis Lee, 2015

The Ice Cream Store: Dennis Lee, 2012

Alligator Pie : Dennis Lee, 2012 

Lizzy's Lion: Dennis Lee, 1984

Garbage Delight: Another Helping: Dennis Lee, 2002

Nicholas Knock and Other People: Dennis Lee, 1974

Prizes

1972 Governor General’s Award For Civil Elegies and Other Poems

1974 CLA Book of the Year Award For Alligator Pie

1974 IODE Award For Alligator Pie

1974 Hans Christian Andersen Honour List For Alligator Pie

1977 Canadian Library Association Book of the Year Award For Garbage Delight

1977 Ruth Schwartz Award For Garbage Delight

1977 Canadian Booksellers Award For Garbage Delight

1984 Phillips Literary Prize For outstanding contribution to Canadian letters

1986 Vicky Metcalf Award For a body of work for children

1991 Mr. Christie’s Award For The Ice Cream Store

1994 Officer, Order of Canada

1995 Honorary Doctor of Letters, Trent University

1995 Toronto Arts Award for Lifetime Achievement

2001 Poet Laureate, Toronto 2001-2004

2001 Canadian nominee for the 2002 Hans Christian Andersen Award For lasting contribution to literature for children and young people

2001 Honorary Doctor of Letters, Ryerson University

2002 Doctor of Sacred Letters, Victoria University In the University of Toronto

2004 Toronto Public Library Celebrates Reading Award

2009 Honorary Doctor of Letters, University of Toronto

Recordings

NEW Dennis Lee C.D

1Alligator Pie

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2Father Goose

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3Peter Was a Pilot

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4Little Miss Dimble

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5Three Tickles

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6The Tale of the Terrible Toothpaste

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7Worm

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8Dickery Dean

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9I Found a Silver Dollar

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10Tricking

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11Good Night, Good Night

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12The Gentle Giant

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13Silverly

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14The Ice Cream Store

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15The Perfect Pets

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16Over and Over

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17Doctor, Doctor

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18Billy Batter

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19Anna Banana

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20Robber J. Badguy

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21The Dinosaur Dinner

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22Psychapoo

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23Mrs Murphy and Mrs Murphy’s Kids

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24Being Five

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25The Muddy Puddle

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26Flying Out of Holes

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27On Tuesdays I Polish My Uncle

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28Dawdle, Dawdle, Dawdle

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29I’m Not Coming Out

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30Inspector Dogbone Gets His Man

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31Peter Ping and Patrick Pong

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32Calling All Dinosaurs

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33Hopeless

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34The Ghost and Jenny Jemima

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35Mister Kim and His Wonderful Cat

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36Garbage Delight

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37Kahshe or Chicoutimi

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38A Walk in the Woods

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39Dead Men in Edmonton

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40Bundle-buggy Boogie

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41The Coming of Teddy Bears

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42Thinking in Bed

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43Suzy Grew a Moustache

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44Lizzy’s Lion

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45The Secret Place

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46Butterfly

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47The Spider’s Web

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48The Question

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49Doctor Bop

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50I Eat Kids Yum Yum!

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51Goober and Guck

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52Melvis and Elvis

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53I Remember, I Remember

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54If Lonesome Was a Pot of Gold

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55Blue Balloon

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56The Faithful Donut

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57There Was a Man

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58The Bratty Brother

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59The Notapotamus

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60The Wizard

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61Percy

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62Goofus

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63The Cat and the Wizard

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64You Too Lie Down

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