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

Dennis Lee Downloads

1Alligator Pie

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2Anna Banana

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3Billy Batter

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4Dickery Dean

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5Doctor, Doctor

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6Father Goose

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7Good Night, Good Night

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8I Found a Silver Dollar

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9Little Miss Dimble

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10Over and Over

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11Peter Was a Pilot

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12Psychapoo

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13Robber J Badguy

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14Silverly

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15The Dinosaur Dinner

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16The Gentle Giant

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17A Walk in the Woods

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18Being Five

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19Blue Balloon

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20Bundle-Buggy Boogie

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22Butterfly

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23Calling All Dinosaurs

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24Dawdle, Dawdle, Dawdle

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25Dead Men in Edmonton

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26Doctor Bop

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27Flying Out of Holes

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28Garbage Delight

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29Goober and Guck

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30Goofus

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31Hopeless

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32I Eat Kids Yum Yum

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33I Remember, I Remember

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34If Lonesome Was a Pot of Gold

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35I'm Not Coming Out

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36Inspector Dogbone Gets His Man

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37Kahshe or Chichoutimi

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38Lizzy's Lion

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39Melvis and Elvis

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41Mrs Murphy and Mrs Murphy's Kids

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42On Tuesdays I Polish My Uncle

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43Percy

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44Peter Ping and Patrick Pong

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45Suzy Grew a Moustache

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46The Bratty Brother

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47The Cat and the Wizard

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48The Coming of Teddy Bears

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49The Faithful Donut

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50The Ghost and Jenny Jemima

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51The Ice Cream Store

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52The Muddy Puddle

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53The Notapotamus

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54The Perfect Pets

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55The Question

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56The Secret Place

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57The Spider's Web

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58The Tale of the Terrible Toothpaste

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59The Wizard

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60There Was a Man

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61Thinking in Bed

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62Three Tickles

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63Tricking

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64Dennis Lee - Worm

65You Too Lie Down

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