If you want to read this hilarious and thoughtful poetry book, hide it from your kids or else you’ll never get a turn.
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. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2017. 192 pages.
Reading Level: Ages 8-10
Recommended For: all
This single-author anthology turned out to be a pleasant surprise for me and a delight to share with my boys. I fount it at a bookstore, read enough to be satisfied that there weren’t any nasty disappointments hiding and introduced it to my boys. They have been enthralled. Reading, re-reading, eager to share it with anyone who would listen, chortling over their favorites. When a book of poetry becomes part of your family culture, I’d say it was a good investment.
I’m Just No Good at Rhyming is full of humorous poems, beginning right from the dedication. Harris is used to writing comedy for TV, but this was intended for his own kids. It works because the range of topics and relationships is so complex. Childlike and multifaceted, the topics range from avocados to five-inch anacondas. Even the poem from a fourth-grader’s perspective, supposedly full of insults, secretly (obviously) declares admiration for the one being despised.
Not all the poems are funny. “The last time I ever went down to breakfast without making my bed” emphasizes parental authority. “The world’s best offer” shows how a loving relationship with parents holds stronger than many distractions. If you are prone to take yourself too seriously however, you might want to skip two poems in which the grownup is particularly made to look foolish. Frankly, hardly anyone can avoid looking ridiculous somewhere in the book, including the author himself.
Poignant, clever, wry, nostalgic, sometimes a little frustrated, but altogether lighthearted poems make a great anthology either for kids who think they don’t like poetry or for those who already have a taste for it. You’ll enjoy it right along with your kids!
P.S. This is the first time my boys have fought over a poetry book. I’m seriously tempted to buy a second copy.
Cautions: Language (darn it, minor insults)
Overall Rating (out of 5): 4.75
- Worldview/moral value: 4.5
- Artistic: 5