Review Blog

Nov 08 2017

I'm just no good at rhyming: and other nonsense for mischievous kids and immature grown-ups by Chris Harris

cover image

Ill. by Lane Smith. Macmillan, 2017. ISBN 9781509881048
(Age: 4+) Recommended. Themes: Poetry. Humour. Word play. Read aloud. Fun. Rhyming. Poetry books often linger on shelves but this one will not. All it needs is someone to read out one of the poems to an eager class, and the book will be taken away. An astute teacher will see the possibilities of using such a book in the classroom, as many of the poems present a template on which children can invent further poems.
Many are just nonsensical, sure to elicit laughter from the delighted listeners, some have marvelous word play, inviting children to add their own piece of nonsense, while others describe a very recognisable situation. Whatever poem found when opening this large book, children will be intrigued, offering rhyming words, working out just what the poet means, trying them out for themselves.
The poem of the title will grab them as the poem lives up to its title, having non-rhyming words at the end of each stanza, impelling listeners to call out their own rhyming words. But when the poet says he is good at metre, spelling and timing, children will learn what these are as they read. Others like 'The hungry giraffe' are simply fun, inviting children to learn the short poem and laugh out loud at the preposterous rhyme in the last line, modeling the use of this poem as a template for their own work, using made-up words to complete the rhyme.
There are poems about bad words, and farms, animals and going out on a Saturday night, poems about families and cities, snails and teachers, all designed to make people laugh out loud and read them over again.
'Under my dragon's wing', for example, encourages children to find something that makes them feel safe, and use the metre of this poem to write their own.
Nonsense poems abound, such as 'The incredible story of day the glistening city of San Fransisco was saved from destruction by a lowly snail', or 'Alphabet book' (by the laziest artist in the world)
while some may be about a topic which encourages discussion like 'The loser's cheer' (and also a laugh!) and others are much longer, like 'The shortest anaconda in the world', which reveals some startling rhyming words.
The illustrations by award winning artist, Lane Smith, add to the fun of the poems, often poking fun at the theme while adding to the story. I love his doorman and the giraffe, while many other drawings made me laugh out loud.
There is an index (good luck with that) and an outdex along with short biographies of the two people responsible for the book.
I can imagine groups of children reading these out to each other, giggling away at the outrageous rhymes and funny illustrations while teachers will use them for classroom poetry readings and modeling creative writing.
Fran Knight

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