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.


Browse All

Featured Selections

1920s, African American, Ocean, Poem

The Enchanted Shell

By H. Cordelia Ray with annotations by Rene Marzuk
1900s, African American, Poem, Wild animals

De Critters’ Dance

By Paul Laurence Dunbar with annotations by Rene Marzuk
1910s, African American, Poem

The White Witch

By James Weldon Johnson with annotations by Rene Marzuk
1910s, African American, Poem

The Band of Gideon

By Joseph S. Cotter, Jr. with annotations by Rene Marzuk
1880s, Food, Native American, Poem, Song, Ballad

The Eating of the Poi

Traditional Hawaiian song with annotations by Jessica Cory
1860s, Short Story

Adventure with an Alpine Bear

Author Unknown with annotations by Josh Benjamin
1860s

Miss Katy-did and Miss Cricket

By Harriet Beecher Stowe with annotations by Karen L. Kilcup
1850s, Birds, Short Story, Trees, Wild animals

The Old Eagle Tree

By John Todd with annotations by Mary Miller
1880s, Education, Farm life, Humor, Native American, Poem

Mary’s Goat

By Anonymous with annotations by Karen L. Kilcup
1860s, 1880s, Poem

Three Bugs

By Alice Cary with annotations by Karen L. Kilcup
1900s, Lullaby, Native American, Song

Zunian Lullaby

Transcribed and harmonized by Carlos Troyer with annotations by Jessica Cory
1880s, Native American, Poem

First Efforts at Rhyming

By “Two Little Indian Girls” with annotations by Jessica Cory
1860s, Short Story

Old Story of the Five Peaches

By Author Unknown with annotations by Josh Benjamin
1920s, Poem

The Tale of a Kitten

By James Weldon Johnson with annotations by Karen L. Kilcup
1910s, Farm life, Native American, Poem, Seasons

Playing and Haying

By Eugene Dutton with annotations by Jessica Cory

css.php