There’s an Awful Lot of Weirdos in Our Neighborhood and Other Wickedly Funny Verse by Colin McNaughton is a collection of over sixty poems for children. McNaughton is one of the U.K.’s most popular children’s
writers, poets, and illustrators. He trained at Central School
of Art and Design and the Royal College of Art and since 1976 has published more than eighty books.
In There’s an Awful Lot of Weirdos in Our Neighborhood, McNaughton writes short verses about everything from eating tripe to dirty nappies
(diapers) to neighborhood characters to pets, both common and exotic, and a myriad of other subjects sure to appeal to children
because they relate to everyday life ("Fingers") or childish flights of fancy ("The Elibird").
McNaughton’s verses are heavy on rhyme and humor, including the gross-out variety that most children love, although
somehow they manage to sound less crass in "British English," especially if read with a British accent. His illustrations are delightful and show as much humor as his poems. My only complaint is that in
the copy of the book I read they were in black and white and I would have loved to see them in colors as vibrant as the words.
easy to see why McNaughton is so popular after reading poems such as “Crocodile’s Kin”:
The best use for a crocodile
Is to keep a crocodile’s insides in.
Or, in describing “The
Who's ever heard of the
Sounds absurd, an Elibird,
One third’s bird, two third’s furred
The body of an elephant, take
Or “A Poem to Send to
Your Worst Enemy”:
What a Pain!
This would be an extremely fun book to read aloud and
would surely elicit shrieks of laughter from children from ages 4-10. Many people view poetry as stiff and formal and
a little bit scary and McNaughton's poems definitely shatter those illusions. Some parents, especially in the U.S., might be
offended by the poems with vulgar topics such as the nosepicking poem or the poems that involve namecalling.
My personal feeling is that parents should loosen up and let themselves and their children enjoy the exuberance, imagination
and humor in all of McNaughton's poems, even the "naughty" ones. In his book about boys and reading, Even
Hockey Players Read, Canadian educator David Booth includes There’s
an Awful Lot of Weirdos in Our Neighborhood in his list of "Recommended Books for Boys" under the heading "Poetry for
Images of Delight website
http://www.imagesofdelight.com/gallery8.htm, accessed January
Booth, David. 2002. Even Hockey Players
Read. Markham, Ontario, Canada: Pembroke Publishers.
By Monica Wood