Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Bananas in My Ears: A Collection of Nonsense Stories, Poems, Riddles, & Rhymes

Bananas in My Ears: A Collection of Nonsense Stories, Poems, Riddles, & Rhymes

Michael Rosen
Illustrator:   Quentin Blake 
Poetry Picture Book
For ages 6 to 8
Candlewick Press, 2012   ISBN: 978-0763662486

Many people think that poetry, real poetry, has to be ‘deep and meaningful,’ and that poems should explore important themes and emotions. Certainly some poetry is serious and thought provoking, but there are also those poems that serve another purpose: they amuse us and make us laugh. Often these poems look at everyday people in everyday situations, and they show us how absurd life sometimes is.

For this collection, Michael Rosen has created some decidedly quirky poems, which are paired with Quentin Blake’s decidedly delightful illustrations. The poems are divided into four chapters: The Breakfast Book (Hard-boiled legs), The Seaside book (Smelly Jelly Smelly Fish), The Doctor Book (Spollyollydiddlytiddlyitis), and The Bedtime Book (Under the Bed). In each chapter, readers will find many individual poems, and they will also find some recurring sections.

In the “What if…” section in each chapter, we are presented with some truly peculiar scenarios. Another section - “Things we say” or “Things they say” or “Things you say” - shows us what people tend to say when they are in a certain situation. For example, I am sure that every parent has heard their child say “Mom, I suddenly feel all right again” when they get to the doctor’s office. Oh, and let’s not forget the times when children say “Just one more story” at bedtime.

In every chapter you will also meet Nat and Anna, siblings who squabble, argue, fight, and support one another only as siblings can. Young readers will surely laugh when they see what this big sister and little brother get up to.

Though many of the poems in this book are of the tickle-the-funny-bone variety, there are some that are more contemplative. In Over my Toes, we are reminded of what it feels like to have “the soft sea wash” over our toes as we stand on a beach. In Feeling Ill, we join a child who is stuck in bed, bored to tears and “waiting for the clock to change.”

Children and adults alike are going to enjoy sharing these poems, laughing at the what ifs, thinking about what people say in certain situations, and marveling at how they behave. Humans really are quite extraordinary creatures.