Weird Wild & Wonderful
James Carter, illustrated by Neal Layton
James Carter’s selection of his own works might be divided into the three sections of its title, but for me, every one of the fifty herein is, in its own way, wonderful.
The first part – ‘Weird’ – contains those poems that their author calls daft or cheeky, or perhaps both. My favourite is Spot the Fairytales (aka Ten Tiny Senryū) or 17 syllable present tense haiku. Here are some examples: Enter if you dare – / three breakfasts; one broken chair. / Off to bed? / Beware … // A cute bird calling / an urgent word of warning – / ‘THE SKY IS FALLING!!’ // … She’s poshed up in bling – / grooving with the future king. / Slipper fits. KERCHING!
Among the daft is a clever shape poem (one of several ) called Lullaby for a Woolly Mammoth that you can sing to the tune of Twinkle, twinkle …
Among the entirely new poems and included in the ‘Wild’ section is The Elephant’s ODE to the DUNG BEETLE. That one really made me laugh and I love Neal Layton’s illustration of same.
Not all the poems are light-hearted though. Anything but is another shape poem Who Cares? … a stark warning against the thoughtless and selfish ways people are harming our precious wildlife.
In the final ‘Wonderful’ part are some of James’ science poems and quiet poems. One of the latter that spoke to me immediately is another new, and timely one – It’s … Kindness. On this particular day I’m also drawn to That’s Poetry, Where Do You Get Your Ideas From? and, School Library!. Here are its first and last verses: Where are doorways made of words? / That open into other worlds? / Welcoming all boys and girls. // SCHOOL LIBRARY // … Tempted? Go on, have a look. / You never know, you might get hooked. / Your whole life changed by just one book … // SCHOOL LIBRARY! Who knows? It just might be this smashing book of poems – there’s something for all tastes therein: it most definitely hooked this reviewer. The book fairy in another of Neal’s terrific illustrations awaits to lure you in.