Shel Silverstein understood the deceptively simple task of making kids giggle through poetry, and it’s no wonder why his anthologies remain beloved classics. Although Chris Harris has been making adults chuckle as a writer for such popular TV shows as “How I Met Your Mother” and “The Late Show with David Letterman,” he proves his worth with children with this debut poetry collection.
Harris tackles many of the same themes as Silverstein—most notably, understanding what it’s like to be a kid. Bouncy, comical rhymes lament, for example, not wanting to share a cookie with a brother and battling the “Whydoo,” that little voice inside you that urges you to be naughty. Others, like “The Remarkable Age,” celebrate the spirit of childhood: “So dance, and be happy! Greet life with a grin! / You’ve the best of both worlds, youth and wisdom, within.”
Children also possess their own sensibilities, which Harris’ poetry aptly depicts. Isn’t it silly to fight fire with fire when water would work better? And eating chocolate for breakfast? “It’s not choco-late . . . It’s choco-early!” Still other poems regale in the (sometimes irreverent) pleasure of nonsense, from a sun “freezing hot” and ground “soaking dry” to a Cyclops who needs glasses—or is that glass?
Who better to illustrate such exuberance than Lane Smith, illustrator of the contemporary classic The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales. His digitally enhanced ink drawings heighten the poetry’s fun. Harris is indeed good at rhyming, which inspires both laughter and wonder.