I don't remember ever enjoying writing a book review quite so much. RapperBee
by Harry Laing and illustrated by Anne Ryan is ridiculously good fun. It is an anthology of over 60 original, (very original!), poems for kids aged six to about twelve. They are meant to be read aloud and will give you a buzz (pun intended).
It is difficult to pick a favourite poem from this collection but I am partial to "I Wish I Had a Really Scottish Name" for the sheer silliness of it. It just gets sillier and sillier. Stoppit! "Gonnae no do that!" as the Scots say.
'Who's been to Scotland, och aye!
everyone should go - here's why:
Scottish surnames are the best
McMiles McBetter than the rest."
It reminded me of Glasgow's miles better (or Glasgow smiles better) slogan. My regular readers will know that I actually have a Scottish pirate name: Piratey McPirateface.
There is a great variety of styles of poem in this one-author collection. For example, there are several shape poems where the topic of the poem is reflected in the shape in which the poem is written and printed, e.g. mushrooms, the moon, Jimi Hendrix's guitar, seaweed and waves. They may motivate kids to have a go at writing their own shape poems. The mouse-tale in Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventure in Wonderland
is a famous early example of "shaped poetry". Other styles of poems used by Laing are limericks, riddles, songs and of course raps such as "RapperBee" of the title, "Chicken Rapper", and "Cockie Rap": "with his smart white feathers and a punk yellow cres
Cockie Rap (May Cross)
The book abounds with rhymes that the kids won't be able to resist. "Step Back Ten Million Years" is a fun example of a rhyming poem. Alliteration, which I love a lot, is another device used in many of the poems such as "chewy chicken, chocolate and chorizo". A couple of examples are "The Flattering Sound of Fl" and "Onelineforthewind" which is brought to you by the whimsical letter W. There is also assonance aplenty. Have a read of "A True Story in the Sound of Oo"; "A Shivery Poem in the Sound of I"; and "A Bee Poem in the Sound of Ee". Brilliant.
There's Not Mushroom
The poet is very fond of food, especially cheese. So much so that he dedicates whole poems to cheese and many other foods like marshmallows and sausages (no, not together) which are an inspiration to write another poem. "My Favourite Food" is such a gross poem that it will surely appeal to kids. Laing also writes about many animals. You'll discover bees, an eagle, flies, a puppy, monkey, stick insect, an octopus, bat, fish, saltwater croc, crow, bull, wombat, and even yabbies in "Crabby Yabbie". Other topics are history e.g. "Going Back in Time 100 Years to 1920"; science e.g. "What Are You Made Of"; ecology e.g. "The Lord Howe Island Stick Insect". Serious themes include the plastics problem and pollution. Non-serious ones include fart, snot and bum jokes that young readers will love.
About the Author
Harry Laing is a children's author, poet and comic performer. He has taught creative writing workshops in schools for over 20 years and he still loves it. He is an ACT Chief Ministers' Reading Challenge Ambassador. RapperBee
is his third book of poems for children. His other books are Shoctopus – Poems to grip
About the Illustrator
Anne Ryan is an author and artist. She is passionate about sharing storytelling and creativity with children through art and picture books. Her other books are Salid
(which I also reviewed for Weekend Notes),Circumstances, Shadowcast, Sybil Investigates
(also with HarryLaing).