Title: It’s Weird to Grow a Beard
Author and Illustrator: Neal Fox
Publication Date: January 21, 2013
Publisher: Independent – CreateSpace
Number of pages: 60
Recommended age: 3 to 8
Reviewed by: Renee and Dominic (Mother and Son)
There once was a nose with exceptional gift. He could tell you the color of things that he whiffed..
He’d stick up his nostrils high in the air, and call off the colors of your shoes and your hair…
Then—the Nose who knows everything got a surprise! In Nelly Shmagessen’s delicatassen the sandwiches reach a mile high. Best friends Ickey and Gooey really stick together. Stan the Man makes houses out of gravy. A mutt in a rut gets help from a friend. And, a curious cat learns when to keep his mouth shut A curious cat learns to keep his mouth shut. And, the Nose who knows everything gets a surprise.
These are some of the hard-to-resist characters from award-winning composer, filmmaker, author and artist, Neal Fox. Curl up with this book and the world will be a cozy place where you can be yourself.
1. What do you think of the cover and/or the pictures in the book? I really liked the pictures because they were silly. There are lots of funny pictures like the cat with the frog in his throat, the sandwich that goes all the way to space, and the earth that is wearing a birthday hat and is tooting a horn.
2.What is poetry? Poetry is a poem where you make lines rhyme and the poems sort of tell a story. The poems in this book rhyme and are funny.
3. Which are your favorite poems? My favorite poems are “A Frog in a Puss” because the picture looks funny and the story is funny. I also liked the one about the sandwich, “nelly shmagessen owned a delicatessen”. I liked the poem “Stan the Man” because the gravy house looks cool, but you can’t really build a house out of gravy.
4. Was there anything that didn’t make sense? In the poem about the nose, it didn’t make sense to me in the lines that say, “He’s never wrong because he’s always right.” [Mom: I tried to explain this line to him, but he still thinks there’s something wrong with the sentence. Sigh…]
5. Can you come up with a short poem about Flame, your cat? [Mom: Ok, my daughter and I ended up pitching in, but Dominic did write most of it. Sadly, he came up with the last line. lol]
There once lived a cat named Flame
Who loved to play a chase game.
He tears after his sister
Creating a disaster
And driving Mommy insane.
6. Overall, what did you think about this book? I really loved, loved the book. I like reading poems and I sort of like writing them too.
7. Who do you think would like this book? I think kids 2 years old to 11 years old would like this book. I think their parents would like it too.
Son Rating: ★★★★★
My Thoughts: Well, ever since I won the poetry writing contest at our Divisional Poetry Festival when I was 5 years old for my poem “Mon Chat”, a poet was born. And then those dreams got dashed when I blew my recital of “Sick” by Shel Silverstein in Grade 4. Oh well! I still have the heart of a poet and that’s why I really enjoyed this collection of poems for children. It’s Weird to Grow a Beard by Neal Fox is a delight.
The poems included in this collection range in length and format, but they all have one thing in common: they are silly and fun and they are accompanied by some colourful kid-friendly illustrations. Some poems are just intended to entertain, such as Hominy Grits? which is a bit of a tongue-twister, similar to “how much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?”
Others are lengthier and contain an important life lesson. For example, in Why Not! the author shares that he’s always marched to a different drummer despite being looked down upon for being different. The final verse brings home the message quite clearly:
And when your life is over
and they envy what you’ve got,
remember when they asked you why,
you answered back –
While I enjoyed all the poems, I must admit that I did take issue with the poem entitled Nobody’s Stupid One Hundred Percent. While I understand the underlying message (i.e., there is always something you are good at), I just don’t want my children (or anyone else) to even identify themselves as any percentage stupid. I always tell my kids that no one is “stupid” but sometimes people do “stupid things”. So, the behaviour is stupid, not the person. Anyways, that is just one of my issues, and overall, the poem itself has a very positive message centred on developing self-esteem.
My Bottom Line: It’s Weird to Grow a Beard is filled with whimsical and plain old silly rhyming fun. The illustrations really add to the experience of reading the poems and this collection of poems will be sure to entertain children between the ages of 3 and 10. I highly recommend this book to teachers in particular who can use these in their classroom for a variety of exercises teaching about poetry.
* This book was provided to us by the author free-of-charge in exchange for our honest opinions. *
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