I'm Just No Good At Rhyming
This collection, fully entitled I'm Just No Good at Rhyming and Other Nonsense for Mischievous Kids and Immature Grown-Ups, came out fairly recently, but it is an instant classic that I will keep in my home library forever. It is indeed full of nonsense (like the poem entitled, “If You Ever Have to Memorize a Poem of Twenty Lines of Longer and Deliver It to Your Class, Then This is a Pretty Good Choice,” which is largely comprised of one word – avocado – spoken at a variety of volumes and inflections), but the humor in this collection is often just a diversion from the fact that it is educational. For instance, in the title poem, “I’m Just No Good at Rhyming,” the speaker confesses:I’m just no good at rhyming.It makes me feel so bad.I’m just no good at rhyming,And that’s why I’m so blue.
Stanza by stanza, a word that should have rhymed with an earlier line is replaced by a non-rhyming synonym, and the results not only make readers giggle, but the kids can’t help but supply the “correct” words themselves. This book is also filled with several examples of concrete, or visual, poetry—where you have to see it physically on the page to read it—which is a fun and novel thing for kids to encounter, and furthermore, it creates a lively and delightful interplay between text and image, author and illustrator, that often erupts into petty arguments and makes plain the fact that the author is not the only one with a hand in shaping interpretation. In this way, it is meta-textual—aware, in other words, of the book as an object and the ways in which books are constructed, and this, too, is a sophisticated idea to introduce to young readers. But the whole book is just so much fun that nothing about it feels like work, in the best way.