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Saturday, January 6, 2018

I'm Just No Good at Rhyming And Other Nonsense For Mischievous Kids and Immature Grown-Ups, written by Chris Harris (without William Shakespeare) and illustrated by Lane Smith, Little, Brown and Company, Hachette. 2017. $25.99 ages 8 and up

"The Little Hurts

Learn to love the little hurts
That lesser folks have dreaded.
For every wrong
Will make you strong
If you will only let it.
The slips, the trips,
The busted lips
The tendon rips
The painful grips ... "

Oh. my! If I start sharing some of my favorite poems from this inviting new collection, I will still be sharing them with you TOMORROW. When I was teaching in early years classrooms I had Dennis Lee, Shel Silverstein, and Jack Prelutsky to make my kids giggle and guffaw. Enter the madcap world of Chris Harris, artfully accompanied by the fantastic Lane Smith. You will be glad you did.

Nonsense, yes! But, there is an element of truth to many of the shared ideas. Hasn't every parent longed to follow through on this?

"Why should I make my bed?" I said.
"It just gets messed up again."

My mother said, "I understand,"
Picked up my eggs and raisin bran,
And tossed them in the garbage can.

"Why should I serve you food?" she said.
"You just get hungry again."

I really could go on and on. Every turn of the page offers up something else to make readers think and respond, question and enjoy. There are more than one hundred poems here, each enticing and worthy of sharing. Give this book to partners to read together and they are in for nonstop fun. Kids will love the wild irreverence, the hilarious scenes, the ongoing missing page numbers. Even the dedication is a back and forth between the author and illustrator sure to evoke a smile!

Chris Harris lets us know from the get-go we should not be expecting a book of rhyme:

"I'm just no good at rhyming.
I'm sorry but it's true.
I'm just no good at rhyming,
And that's why I'm so sad.

I'm pretty good with meter,
And with spelling and with timing.
But I'll never be a poet,
'Cause I just can't rhyme words at all."

What a superb debut collection of silliness! There are riddles and jokes for the eyes, the ears, and for everyone who ever thought they would love to find a new poet to share at home and in the classroom. Lane Smith brings a strong sense of absurdity in his mixed-media artwork that adds perfect punch to the messages imparted in the words. It's sad that the author is not impressed.

"I must confess that I don't like my poems' illustrator.
They told me, "Lane is great!" but man, I really think I hate her!
I swear that I drew better when I was a second-grader!
You won't believe my endless list of reasons to berate her ...

But I've been smart - for as of now, I haven't even paid her.
(I wonder what she'll draw right here? I guess I'll find out later.)"

Or now:

Don't miss the Index which is alphabetized, or the Outdex which includes titles that 'did not make the cut'. The acknowledgements are worthy of reading out loud to anyone willing to listen. Full out energy and fraught with original ideas, this is a collection that deserves a place in every library, classroom and home. Get ready to smile, and smile and smile again!

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