The Envious Lobster

Lithograph illustration of Lobster (Homarus americanus) adapted from ‘Zoology of New York or, the New York Fauna,’ by James Ellsworth De Kay, 1843. https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/012406840.


Why “The Envious Lobster”? Our title references an 1833 poem by famous children’s author and abolitionist Hannah Gould. A green lobster wearing “her old suit of greenish black” talks with her friend “dressed in scarlet” and wishes she too could be so “gaily clad.” For those who know what makes lobsters red, the scalding conversation brings no surprises, but the poem itself exemplifies the combined instruction and (gruesome!) delight that have animated much American children’s nature writing from early on. These neglected poems, dialogues, and stories about nature and the environment deserve renewed attention.

Our anthology covers such topics as animal welfare, natural history, conservation, and environmental justice. Writers both famous and unfamiliar provide selections that shock, amuse, play, teach, and surprise. Aiming to welcome various readers, we’ve included pictures, secondary resources, and some explanatory materials, including short biographies. You can read what you want and ignore the rest. We admit that personal interests inform our choices, but we hope every reader will find something here to admire, remember, and share.

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Miss Katy-Did and Miss Cricket

Harriet Beecher Stowe,
May 1866

The Sugar Plum

William Lloyd Garrison, 1835

The Old Owl

Samuel Griswold Goodrich, March 1843

Winter Sweetness

Harriet Beecher Stowe,
May 1886

Prairie Fires

Eudora May Stone, September 1874

The name of it is “autumn”

Emily Dickinson, 1862