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The Book of Not Entirely Useful Advice: Spectacularly Silly Poems

The Book of Not Entirely Useful Advice

Published: 3 Sep 2020

Hardback, 160 pages

Recommended for age 5+ and 7+

By A.F. Harrold

Illustrated by Mini Grey

Published by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

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A riotous celebration of words and a modern take on cautionary tales - featuring advice on parrots, gravy, mathematics, castles (bouncy), spiders, vegetables (various), breakfast, cakes, and removing ducks from soup. Advice comes in many shapes. Poems come in many shapes.

And so, it follows, poems of advice come in many shapes too. Sometimes they look you in the eye and say, 'Do this! Don't do that!' Sometimes they sidle up beside you and whisper, 'Have you ever thought about ... ?'Not everything in this book is necessarily good advice, and not all of it is sensible advice.

(But if you take the bad or un-sensible advice and don't follow it, then it may become useful advice in its own way.)Filled with colour illustrations and packed with silly rhymes, witty wordplay and thought-provoking story poems, this collection will delight children of all ages.

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Reviewed by Rebecca Simpson-Hargreaves

The Book of Not Entirely Useful Advice is full of just that. Want some advice on how to feed a pet? How about avoiding a dangerous habit, or maybe you want to know the perils of a bouncy castle?! Poet AF Harrold and illustrator Mini Grey have created exactly the book you need!

This collection of poetry is an absolute pleasure to read. It makes the reader laugh out loud at both the words and pictures that accompany them. It’s a book that can only be described as genius and joyous; it would entice even the most reluctant reader! The poems are organised into different sections, with each one as equally enjoyable as the other. Subjects range from zombies to umbrellas, the secret life of cabbages and the magic an onion can do against bullies; there really is something for everyone. Interspersed between groups of poems are little gems that focus on you as the reader. An example of this is being invited to use theAdvice-a-Tron 216 to answer your questions, whilst later in the book being given the opportunity to create one of your own. Mini Grey encourages the reader to draw their own pictures, with spaces within the book included to do this.

The Book of Not Entirely Useful Advice: Spectacularly Silly Poems should be a staple in every classroom to inspire both future poets and illustrators. Fans of Andy Seed’s The Silly Book of Side-Splitting Stuff  would devour silliness in poetic form. What is really super is this book is the equal ranking of both AF Harrold’s words and Mini Grey’s drawings, it feels like one could not exist with the other. Combined they offer a unique text that will bring sunshine to any setting and certainly should have pride of place on the reading for pleasure pile.

I am a lecturer in Primary Education specialising in English at the University of Manchester. Lover of picture books, poetry, non fiction and fantasy. Passionate about using children's literature to develop children's empathy, self-awareness and social justice and human rights.