Colin Thompson (author)
Peter Viska (illustrator)
Hodder Children's, Australia: March 2002
Genres: humour, poetry
'I like blowing bubbles/ when I'm sitting in the bath./ They don't smell very nice/ But they make my brother laugh.' Colin Thompson's capacity for clever vulgarity of the kind that provokes a belly laugh is given unfettered reign in this collection of riotous limericks and poems.
Often the rhythmic, rhyming, humorous verse so beloved of children has a contrived feel to it as writers struggle to force a rhyme by rearranging words into an artificial order. Thompson's skill with language is such that this rarely happens. Instead the verse is easy to read aloud and is sufficiently funny that children will want to learn particular poems so that they can share them more easily with friends and family.
Not all poems relate to bodily functions or nauseating events. Other types of delightful silliness abound. A particular favourite is 'English is Stupid' (p71) where Thompson highlights some of the nuttier 'exceptions to rule' in the English language. This is definitely a poem that will appeal to gifted writers, who can enjoy the challenge of writing something similar exploring the many other 'non conformist' English words that bend the spelling and pronunciation rules. 'The Sporran' (p47) is a comical take on the life story of one of the more bizarre elements of a famous national costume. 'How to Write Poems 1' (p51) even explores the difficulty of finding words that rhyme. So be prepared for the fact that after you've read a few pages to your child before bed, you'll be taking the book with you to share with whoever's still up.
Peter Viska is probably best known for his illustrations of Far Out, Brussel Sprout but somehow his cartoon-style pictures don't really work with the poet's brand of wit. They don't quite support the black, ironic edge or anarchic humour of most of Thompson's work. Obviously the ideal would be for Thompson to illustrate his own verse but if his plate was overloaded and cartoon-style was required, the warped humour of Terry Denton might work better, or the darkly disturbing work of Dave McKean.
While the illustrations don't particularly enrich or expand the anthology, the poems are, nevertheless, great fun and very clever.
Did you know?
Nothing contributes so much to tranquilizing the mind as a steady purpose - a point on which the soul may fix its intellectual eye.