Books Picture Book Challenge 2012 Picture Books Poetry-Filled Yuletide Cheer Reading Themes

A Celebration of Nonsense Poetry: A Michael Rosen and Clare Mackie 2-in-1 Special

Extended Holiday Cheer from the GatheringBooks Ladies!

The Holidays ain’t over for us yet since we have a bit of spill-over with our Poetry-filled Yuletide Cheer theme continuing until end of next week. What can we do – we can not seem to get enough of poetry! 🙂 We can’t possibly end our theme without featuring Michael Rosen‘s nonsense book of poetry – highly recommended as well by award-winning Alwin Aguirre, our Featured Academic.

Michael Rosen’s Book of Nonsense illustrated by Clare Mackie

As the title goes, the entire book is a luscious collection of nonsense verse – there are 31 poems in all excluding the Introduction and the Postscript – which are strangelicious in their own right:


This is not the end of the book. It’s the beginning. And while I think f it, this is not a potato, it’s a book. Because it’s a book it’s not full of sandwiches, it’s full of words and pictures. This is the end of my introduction.

Michael Rosen

That should give you an idea of the hilarity wrapped around this book that celebrates nonsense in its form, rhythm, rhyme, voice, meter, line, whathaveyou. We find a jellyfish under the rug in Splish – as we wonder how a birthday cake stuck in the washing machine tastes like in Rosie, Rosie [as the cat shared ‘well at least/ the cake was clean’]. Do you know what a sticket looks like? Or a flat-on-the-flaurus for that matter?

The reader also empathizes with a common garden toad stuck in the middle of the Road. I was reminded of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs in Rosen’s Beans and found myself giggling with his 6 Limericks – a tamer version of Edward Gorey’s definitely-not-for-kid-limericks.

I also thought that similar to the partnership that Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake enjoyed, this collaboration between Rosen and Mackie is just as inspired and powerful! Mackie has brought to life creatures such as Bips

They mutter,

they splutter,

they show their greasy


They grunt,

they hunt,

they go about in gangs.

and the lovely Mary Anne, made of elastic who “stretched and stretched/ right round the world.”

My absolute favorite though from this first book is Help.

Help, help
nothing’s right
I can’t find my ears
and my pants are too tight.
There’s a clock in my sock
there’s a rose up my nose
there’s an egg on my leg
and there’s a stink in the sink.
Help, help
I’ve had enough
I can’t find my eyes
and the going’s getting tough.
– (p. 10)

Even More Nonsense from Michael Rosen Illustrated by Clare Mackie

In the sequel to Rosen’s bestselling nonsense book, we have 20 more poems excluding once again the lovely Introduction and his epilogue aptly entitled as “An End to All this Nonsense.”

In this collection, the reader sees more allusions to I.T. savvy-techie-stuff as seen in the P.C. Cats and Plonky Wonky Doodah who does nothing but chat online. There is also the world’s first Stray Cat in Space in The Cat Went Out as well as Little Queenie who happens to be a real meanie.

Similar to the first book, there are eerie creatures such as The Smeenge who happens to be ‘kind of, sort of wild.’ There is also Inky Stinky with the Skull Face who thinks that his Dad is bad. The reader also gets introduced to retired Windscreen Wipers and a boo-hoo-let’s-cry get-together in Our Party. My personal favorite, though, in this book is My Drink. Here are some excerpts from the poem:

My drink started to stink
my dumpling was crumpling.
Dinner disaster
dinner disaster
my head was spinning
faster and faster.
My bread was turning red,
my peas began to sneeze.
Faster and faster
faster and faster
we were heading
for dinner disaster.
My eggs were growing legs
my beans were wearing jeans
my pie winked its eye
my rice was chasing mice.

Now with a dinner like that, no need to diet!

Some Notes about Nonsense

People tend to take themselves way too seriously – educators more than most. This is a reminder for us to chill out, stop making sense of things all the time, and to simply let one’s mind wander at will. This book makes one enjoy the cadence of crisply structured nonsensical rhymes – lightened and sharpened by alliteration. Perfect for a read-aloud.

If you wish to know more about the amazing Michael Rosen (who was kind enough to leave a comment in this post), please click here to be taken to his website and here to be taken to his blog. I also have to credit Clare Mackie for the fantabulous illustrations which breathed life to Rosen’s irreverent wit and marked oddities. You may wish to check out her website here.

Michael Rosen’s Book of Nonsense, Illustrated by Clare Mackie. Hodder Children’s Books: A Division of Hachette Children’s Books, 2008. Book borrowed from the NIE library. Book photos were taken by me.

Even More Nonsense from Michael Rosen illustrated by Clare Mackie. Hodder Children’s Books: A Division of Hachette Children’s Books, 2008. Book borrowed from the NIE library. Book photos were taken by me.

PictureBook Challenge 2012: 3/4 of 120

Amazon | Book Depository

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

11 comments on “A Celebration of Nonsense Poetry: A Michael Rosen and Clare Mackie 2-in-1 Special

  1. I don’t know, Myra, but these poems seem to make a lot of sense. And the illustrations appear to be accurate.

    And they sure are fun. And funny.



    • Hi Maria, if for anything, I love how I am able to glimpse nonsensical quibbles from the seemingly-sanest and sensible lines. But yes, you’re right, the illustrations ARE accurate, but with the touch of whimsy and the spectacularly-quirky too!


  2. These poems are funny. When I saw Mary Anne, I was reminded of Tim Burton’s bunch of oddities in The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy such as Robot Boy, the Girl who turned into a bed, and, of course, Oyster Boy himself. =)


  3. The holidays should never be over! Thanks!


  4. Thanks! Wow!
    very best wishes
    Michael Rosen


  5. I put a link to this to my blog which I then linked to facebook and twitter.

    Thanks again
    Michael Rosen


    • Hello! It truly is such an honor to have you visit our little corner. I’m thrilled that you discovered our site. We are also grateful for the link and we’re glad that you enjoyed the review. 🙂


  6. alwin aguirre

    woohoo! michael rosen! ♥


  7. Pingback: List of Novels in Verse and Poetry Books for Children and Round-up for January 2012 «

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