I purchased The Puffin Book of Funny Verse in the hopes that it would provide wholesome but humorous reading for children. And it was funny – funny weird. Funny goofy. Funny oddball-ificacious. Ugh.
Don’t get me wrong – not every poem in this collection was weird. Just almost every poem. For example, I loved this very clever poem.
If Mary goes far out to sea,
By wayward breezes fanned,
I’d like to know – can you tell me? –
Just where would Maryland?
If Tenny went high up in air
And looked o’er land and lea,
Looked here and there and everywhere,
Pray what would Tennessee?
I looked out of the window and
Saw Orry on the lawn;
He’s not there now, and who can tell
Just where has Oregon?
Two girls were quarrelling one day
With garden tools, and so I said,
‘My dears, let Mary rake
And just let Idaho.’
A friend of mine lived in a flat
With half a dozen boys;
When he fell ill I asked him why.
He said ‘I’m Illinois.’
An English lady had a steed.
She called him ‘Ighland Bay.
She rode for exercise, and thus
Rhode Island every day. [pg. 39]
Wasn’t that DARLING?
But this is the poem on the page opposite it.
A doting father once there was
Who loved his daughter Gerda,
Until she got the piano craze –
Then how the passion stirred her!
Her fingers were wild elephants’ feet,
And as month after month he heard her.
He tried every way
To stop her play
From bribery to murder.
One day when she was practicing,
He popped up behind and caught her
And dumped her in his wheelbarrow
And carried her off to slaughter.
Tipping her into a well, he cried,
‘Hurrah! I’ve drowned my daughter!’
But a voice from the well
Rang out like a bell,
‘Aha – there isn’t any water!’ [pg. 38]
I didn’t go looking for the worst poem in the book. This was just the one sitting opposite of Stately Verse. Just to see what would happen, I flipped open to another random spot. Here is what I found.
Naughty little Hannah said
She could make her Grandma whistle,
So, that night, inside her bed,
Placed some nettles and a thistle.
Though dear Grandma quite infirm is,
Heartless Hannah watched her settle,
With her poor old epidermis
Resting up against a nettle.
Suddenly she reached the thistle!
My! you should have heard her whistle.
A successful plan was Hannah’s
But I cannot praise her manners. [pg. 56]
These are just typical examples of the irreverent behavior that is promoted through the poetry of this book. Other poems fall into the categories of being silly, fantastical, stupid, and irrational. Some deal positively with such topics as evolution, murder (as seen earlier), disrespect towards authority, and cannibalism.
God’s name is also used in vain twice.
Conclusion. If you could not tell from my review, I do not recommend this collection of poetry. Better anthologies can certainly be found.
Review © 2013 Laura Verret