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

1900s, African American, Poem, Trees

The Haunted Oak

By Paul Laurence Dunbar with annotations by Rene Marzuk
1910s, Native American, Short Story

How Morning Star Lost Her Fish

By Mabel Powers/Yeh Sen Noh Wehs with annotations by Jessica Cory
1920s, African American, Short Story

How Mr. Crocodile Got His Rough Back

By Julian Elihu Bagley with annotations by Josh Benjamin
1910s, African American, Poem

The Band of Gideon

By Joseph S. Cotter, Jr. with annotations by Rene Marzuk
1850s, Birds, Short Story, Trees, Wild animals

The Old Eagle Tree

By John Todd with annotations by Mary Miller
1850s, African American, Poem

Bury Me in a Free Land

By Frances Ellen Watkins with annotations by Celia Hawley & Josh Benjamin
1840s, Poem

The Old Owl

By Samuel Griswold Goodrich with annotations by Karen L. Kilcup
1910s, African American, Family, Lullaby, Poem

A Lullaby

By Cora J. Ball Moten with annotations by Rene Marzuk
1860s, Short Story

Adventure with an Alpine Bear

Author Unknown with annotations by Josh Benjamin
1880s, Cats, Dialogue, Education, Native American, Poem

The Kittens’ Lessons

By Anonymous with annotations by Karen L. Kilcup
1870s, Short Story

The Best China Saucer

By Sarah Orne Jewett with annotations by Karen L. Kilcup
1880s, Short Story

The Mountain Hut

By Rebecca Harding Davis with annotations by Josh Benjamin
1880s, Education, Farm life, Humor, Native American, Poem

Mary’s Goat

By Anonymous with annotations by Karen L. Kilcup
1910s, Birds, Column, Creation stories, Myth, Native American

Tradition of the Crows

By Louis George (Klamath) with annotations by Jessica Cory
1860s, 1880s, Poem

Three Bugs

By Alice Cary with annotations by Karen L. Kilcup
1870s, Poem

Prairie Fires

By Eudora May Stone with annotations by Karen L. Kilcup

css.php