Does Grandma Have a Mustache? is the intriguing title of a new book of poetry for kids by Rita Ann Fleming. And what kid wouldn't want to sit down with their favorite book reader and listen to these poems, many of which tell a story? I know I couldn't wait to read them to my grandchildren after I received my copy in the mail recently.
This isn't some flimsy paperback book either. The hardback comes encased in a bright red jacket cover with lovely pencil drawing illustrations on front and back done by Abigail Marble, whose lovely and often comical illustrations are throughout the book. The back cover bears a Grand Parental Advisory which reads: CAUTION! Be ready to spend quality overtime with your grandchildren as they repeatedly request that you read these fun-filled rhymes with them BEWARE! Compelling questions may be encountered!
Whatever does that mean?
Well, after reading The Toy Trunk on page 12, your grandkids just might start asking you about the toys you played with as a child. This poem makes mention of many of the toys my sisters and I played with when we were growing up. How many of these do you remember?
- Chatty Cathy
- Kewpie Doll
- Howdie Doodie
- GI Joe
- Baby First Steps
- Raggedy Andy
- Betsy Wetsy
- Barbie (okay... I know. Every generation alive has heard of/played with Barbie dolls.)
- Lamb Chop (who can name the puppeteer?)
- Hush Puppy
Can the Fairy Find Me? might bring up questions of how mythological beings (like the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus, and the Easter Bunny) can find them when your grandkids are having a sleep-over at your house.
Why an Appendix? could prompt the question, "What is an appendix?" And after reading Escalators, your kiddos might ask, "Are there really alligators living under escalators?"
And, of course, there's the age-old question: Do adults really have eyes in the back of their heads. That's what you'll be talking about after reading Eyes Where?
I really liked the way some of the poems referenced things in earlier poems. It gave the book a sense of continuity.
Overall, you and the kids will delight in these 64 original poems. I know I did. While most are silly, there are a few serious ones that could tug at the heart strings. Like this one:
In the Middle
You'll find me in the middle,
stuck somewhere in-between
the oldest and the youngest,
I'm seldom heard or seen.
I'm squeezed between my sisters,
I'm neither big nor small,
Sometimes I do not wonder if
I'm noticed much at all!
Available on Amazon for $17.95, this is a quality hardcover book, perfect for lap time with Grandma or Grandpap. It is also available on the website with a free shipping offer through December 20, 2016. It would be an awesome Christmas gift when coupled with a weekend of games, baking, and reading with your grandchildren.
The poems contained within these 106 pages made me smile, chuckle, and tear up a bit (see In the Middle). But at times, they also made me cringe.
As a children's book editor, I never seem to be able to remove my editor's hat while reading. My virtual red pen is always uncapped and ready to mark up the pages. Unfortunately, there were several places in this collection of poetry that had my red ink flowing.
While the rhyme and meter was spot on for most of the poems, there were a few with forced rhymes that didn't work for me and a few with missteps in the meter. I could overlook that, due to the quality of the poetry in the rest of the book. However, I could not ignore misspellings, as they are inexcusable to me. In particular, on page 36, the word somersault is misspelled summersault. Cringe. There were a couple of punctuation errors/typos as well, which had me begging the question: What kind of editor did Fleming hire? Examples: Instead of "We" on page 93, it reads "Wwe." There is a missing end quote on page 63 and a missing period on page 69. And, even though she does it correctly throughout the rest of the book, there is a period outside the quotation mark on page 44. Am I being nitpicky? Perhaps. But like I said, I'm an editor and I just can't ignore mistakes other editors should have corrected.
On page 100, Fleming writes: "There's rules to put your toys away." It should read, "There are rules..." Perhaps she was using creative license for the sake of meter, but I hate teaching children improper grammar. It's just a pet peeve of mine.
Above all the errors, there is one that, to me, is inexcusable. In the poem, Mulberry Street, Fleming alludes to many books by a well-loved children's author. It's a cute poem. But the last line reads, "Thank you, Dr. Suess!" Seuss is spelled wrong and I wanted to cry!
Hopefully, since pointing out the errors, Fleming will be able to have them corrected for future orders of the book. I can only hope so, because for me, I would have rated the book more highly had it been free of these grammatical, spelling, and punctuation errors and typos.
Because I have a reputation to uphold as an editor, I couldn't post a review without pointing them out. But I did thoroughly enjoy this book overall and I hope you will give it a chance. It's rare to find poetry books of this quality in children's libraries these days. I recommend putting this book on the shelf to be read again and again!
Reviewing it for you,