I'm Just No Good at Rhyming: And Other Nonsense for Mischievous Kids and Immature Grown-Ups

Book review by
Jan Carr, Common Sense Media
I'm Just No Good at Rhyming: And Other Nonsense for Mischievous Kids and Immature Grown-Ups Book Poster Image
Wordplay and cleverness abound in funny poems for kids.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Intro to poetry via kid-friendly poems aligned with kid sense of humor. Lots of wordplay. Sophisticated vocabulary woven into rhymes; for instance, "reprobate," "primordial," "ungulate."

Positive Messages

Implicit message that poetry and wordplay are fun and enjoyable. Some poems have supportive messages about kids' emotions, growth, and other common experiences.

Positive Role Models & Representations

In some poems, the poet offers gentle, reassuring advice, or helpful ways of looking at experience, challenges, and life.

Violence & Scariness
Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that I'm Just No Good at Rhyming: And Other Nonsense for Mischievous Kids and Immature Grown-Ups is a collection of poems written by Chris Harris and illustrated by two-time Caldecott Honoree Lane Smith (The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales). Though Harris is new to kids' books, he's earned his comedy cred writing for TV shows like How I Met Your Mother and The Late Show with David Letterman. As the title signals, these poems aren't ponderous, they're rip-roaring fun. In his equally funny illustration, Smith depicts a diverse cast of characters.

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What's the story?

I'M JUST NO GOOD AT RHYMING: AND OTHER NONSENSE FOR MISCHIEVOUS KIDS AND IMMATURE GROWN-UPS is a compilation of funny poems about a wide range of subjects. Some touch on emotions, family relationships, and the experience of growing up. Some are conceptual; for instance, encouraging deep thoughts about time. And others are inventively silly, like one about ice cream Mondaes.

Is it any good?

This highly imaginative book of poems uses a whole arsenal of clever tricks to get kids to giggle while challenging them to think. The wordplay in I'm Just No Good at Rhyming sensitizes kids to language. Is breakfast chocolate choco-late or choco-early? Other poems are brainteasers; for instance, stretching kids' thinking about time and sentence structure. Sometimes author Chris Harris goes meta, as when illustrator Lane Smith comments, "Sorry, Chris, I have to stop you right there. This poem is too ridiculous." There are also running gags: poems that riff on previous poems. And in a really rogue move, Harris messes with the page numbers, eliminating all eights, which he combines with a poem about a kid who wasn't taught the number eight. He apologizes for putting that kid's parents in charge of pagination.

There are some unusual and surprising rhymes: "tomato/not today though," "grateful/irateful." Mostly, the rhymes trip off the tongue, but there's the occasional near-rhyme misstep: "fierce/years"? And in one poem, Harris leaves his kid-friendly POV to deliver a slightly sour lesson from a parent. But the overall tenor is pure fun, and Smith, who excels at humorous illustration, is the perfect pairing.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the poems and illustrations in I'm Just No Good at Rhyming: And Other Nonsense for Mischievous Kids and Immature Grown-Ups. Are there places the art makes the poems funnier? Or where the art helps explain the poem? In which poems do the poet and illustrator talk to each other directly?

  • Why do you think the author's note at the beginning apologizes for putting "Leo Arden's parents" in charge of numbering the pages? Which poem explains what this means? How does this affect the actual numbering?

  • Can you find poems that relate or refer directly to other poems in the book? Do those connections make the book more fun for you?

Book details

For kids who love poetry and humor

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