After last night’s venture into the sunshine-rainbow world of abnormal hematology, I desperately needed to read something fun, lighthearted, and easily understood without the aid of a medical dictionary.
Luckily, I knew where such a something could be found.
When my parents came to visit a few weeks ago, one of the first things Mom did* was hand me a large book of poetry. She said it was for the kids, but her grin told me otherwise. I opened it to a random page, read over it, and said, “Hey, you all have to hear this! And this one . . . and this!” The entire family, including my mother-in-law, was giggling within five verses.
Oops! is a collection of clever and delightfully silly poems written by Alan Katz, who, before writing twenty or so hilarious books for children, compiled a seriously impressive resume as a humor writer. As if that weren’t enough, Oops! is illustrated by Edward Koren. Yeah—the Ed Koren.
My kids have asked me to read this collection all the way through almost every evening—“You missed one, Mommy, go back!”—since it came into the house.
They don’t do this for Shel Silverstein.
The clincher, as far as I’m concerned, is that I don’t mind. It isn’t easy to write material for children that doesn’t send adults into eye-twitch territory halfway through the fourth repetition,** but Mr. Katz appears to have no trouble at all.
And in the back of Oops!, after a much-appreciated index, is an essay describing how Mr. Katz began his career as a humor writer—complete with elementary school report cards—came to write poetry, and how the poems in this collection were selected. Janie and I found this fascinating, especially his challenge to guess which poem was written, in its entirety, on the potty.***
Here, with permission,^ are a few of my writing-related favorites^^ from Oops!:
Everybody Comma Down!
(Alan Katz, ©2008)
The English teacher was in pain
while teaching punctuation.
He had to end the PERIOD
With pain and aggravation.
“My stomach hurts,” he said in QUOTES.
“I think it’s really swollen.”
He DASHed for surgery, and now—
He has a SEMICOLON.
This next selection is the only one of the bunch that can’t be read aloud—it’s more of a visual.
Why? Huh? Why?
(Alan Katz, ©2008)
Why doesn’t cough
rhyme with rough?
And same thing with
It’s all so confusing!
From now on I’m choosing
to skip this ridiculous
And at the risk of abusing Mr. Katz’s generosity, I can’t resist adding Sunny’s favorite, which has led her to requesting a certain dish for breakfast every morning for two weeks and doing the eggy-dance, which has to be seen to be believed:
(Alan Katz, ©2008)
I’m writing a love song
They don’t have eyes,
they don’t have legs.
They cannot sing,
they cannot dance.
You cannot keep them
In your pants.
But they’re my friends,
is what I’ve rambled.
I love them so . . .
If you and your brood end up loving this stuff as much as we do, Mr. Katz has another collection (also illustrated by Mr. Koren) coming out on October 25th—Poems I Wrote When No One Was Looking.
We can’t wait!
* After hugs, a bathroom visit, and the restocking of our fridge and cupboards . . .
** Or, in the case of Runny Babbit, halfway through the first.
*** Janie and Sunny think it’s “Reel Trouble.” I think it’s “Did He take a MacBath?” Mr. Katz?
^I e-mailed Mr. Katz very late last night, asking if I might share a couple of my favorite poems here. I assumed that I would hear back in a few weeks, if at all—but this morning, I received a very nice reply and kind consent. How cool is that?
^^ Janie wanted me to include the one about passing gas in church, mostly for the pun in the last line, but you’re going to have to look that one up yourself.