Review of No More Poems!: A Book in Verse That Just Gets Worse

No More Poems!: A Book in Verse That Just Gets Worse
by Rhett Miller; illus. by Dan Santat
Primary, Intermediate    Tingley/Little, Brown    48 pp.
3/19    978-0-316-41652-8    $17.99
e-book ed.  978-0-316-41649-8    $9.99

Miller, lead singer/songwriter of the alt-country band Old 97’s, knows how to grab an audience’s attention. This collection of twenty-three kid-pleasing poems opens with “My Secret Karate,” which is set in a public bathroom stall: “I stand on my left foot and raise my right leg / Using muscles in abs, thighs and tush / And with just the toe of my special blue sneaker / I make the toilet flush.” In addition to karate-potty humor, the irreverent subjects hit familiar notes. The speaker in “Purple Pox” makes a case for staying home from school with a mysterious ailment (“I should be better by 3:25”). “How to Play Baseball” tells of a Little League pitcher’s triumph over his team’s tyrannical coach…his dad. “Weirdos of the World Unite!” celebrates the idiosyncrasies that make “every single one of us / …a weirdo.” With expressive caricatures and varied compositions, Santat’s boisterous illustrations amp up the absurdity and enhance the subversion. On the right-hand side of one double-page spread, the stanzas of “My Device” appear as a text-message conversation; the left shows two young people side by side, each separately engrossed in an electronic device. While “Stinky-Mouth You” (about the perils of touring with a bandmate whose “mouth smell[s] like an old garbage can”) won’t resonate with everyone, and the Cain and Abel–level sibling rivalry in “Brotherly Love” may raise grownups’ eyebrows, the accompanying stylized cartoon art focuses on the humor. As celebrity forays into books for children go, No More Poems! is a solid offering, providing for readers an all-star lineup of mostly relatable, occasionally thought-provoking, and always entertaining reflections.

From the March/April 2019 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.
Kitty Flynn
Kitty Flynn is consulting editor for The Horn Book, Inc.

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