How I Spent Election Night: I’m Just No Good at Rhyming
There is a lot of stress tonight. That is my understatement of the day. So I spent it in utter silliness, reading ridiculous poetry with my kids.
I’m Just No Good at Rhyming (and Other Nonsense for Mischievous Kids and Immature Grown-Ups) by Chris Harris and illustrated by Lane Smith is perfect for reading aloud on a night when all one needs is levity and laughter. I’m talking real laughter. Like, the kids are snorting and laughing at how hard they are laughing and “Mom! Stop! My face hurts!” laughter.
For adults who still need convincing that the book is a hoot, Chris Harris produced and wrote for How I Met Your Mother. So, you know, its legendary. The jokes start on the front cover, where it is declared that the book was written without William Shakespeare, and continue onto the dust jacket flaps. The back of the book is peppered with poems that didn’t make the cut. My kids have never asked me to read a dust jacket before. Thing Two grabbed the book from me and started reading everything. Even the copyright page and the dedication. He looked at me, agape, and said “Mom. This guy is funny everywhere!”
I firmly believe that kids appreciate poetry when it feels real and approachable, and this book is proof. Poems teach about wordplay and economy of language- of word choice and rhythm. Poetry sparks discussion and makes people think about WHY they read WHAT they just read. There is a lot about poetry to inspire readers and writers of all ages.
These poems are deeply funny and the pages are laid out beautifully, with Lane Smith’s artwork complimenting the words. I love the pen-scratchy quality to Smith’s illustrations in this book and even he is in on the joke. The poem “Alphabet Book (by the laziest artist in the world) takes each letter with the exact same illustration above- a horizontal line topped with a simple arc. “A is for anthill. B is for bridge. C is for cowboy hat. D is for dome”, and so on. Thing Two nearly keeled over laughing at “P is for parabola” and Thing One could not get over “Q is for quail (under a serving lid)”.
- Other favorites:
- “If You Ever Have to Memorize a Poem of Twenty Lines or Longer and Deliver it to Your Class, Then This is a Pretty Good Choice”. This poem is the word avocado said over and over, in different inflections, ending, inexplicably, in “SOCK!” (Warning to the reader- my kids yell “SOCK!” all the time now)
- “My Dessert Tummy”– an ode to the space we always seem to have for dessert, with the gorgeous line “Cracker Jack cul de sacs”
- “Nothing is Impossible (The Teacher and the Child)”. This poem begins as a teacher trying to deliver an inspirational message “Nothing is impossible/Every bridge is crossable/Every tooth is flossable. . .” and ends with a student pestering him so much that “the teacher’s head exploded, and the child got teacher brains all over her new dress. It was really, really gross. And cool.”
There are poems written in reverse, and poems written in infinity circles, and a duel between a lower case b and d that needs to be seen to be appreciated. There is a poem in which the illustrator keeps interrupting. There is a poem about not liking one’s illustrator. I do not want to spoil this for you- you just need to get this book. If you need a laugh today, tomorrow, next week- this is the book for you. Bonus points if you share it with a kid.
- I’m Just No Good at Rhyming: And Other Nonsense for Mischievous Kids and Immature Grown-Ups
- Written by Chris Harris
- Illustrated by Lane Smith
- Published by Little, Brown and Company, September 2017
- 192 pages, recommended age 6 and up
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