My Sister Has a Big Black Beard, by Duncan Ball

Reviewed by Dale Harcombe

Considering the dearth of poetry books around for children and the number of teachers crying out for them, plus the fact this collection is written by Duncan Ball who already has an established following with his Selby and Emily Eyefingerbooks, this book should do extremely well.

In these poems Duncan Ball’s quirky sense of humour and playful use of words and rhyme is sure to appeal to children. This is evident in the title poem and also in his ability to pick up something as small and insignificant as a bookmark or a mozzie bite shows there is nothing outside the scope of poetry.

Readers might even learn something about spelling as in the humorous Old Mrs McKeller.

This book is destined to be a hit with children who will chuckle over the poems. It is one where everyone is going to have their particular favourites, whether it is the long narrative of Amanda Hass who eats glass, or the pitfalls of eating food past its prime as in Quentin’s Lunch. One I liked was

All Poemed out
I’m poemed out
I’m poemed out
I’ve just developed poem doubt
I don’t know what to write about.

could easily be expressing the feeling of any child told to write a poem in class.

There’s the innate honesty in Epitaph for Lonely Man. What child can fail to feel the impatience of waiting to get out of school and the exuberance of Daylight Savings Spent?
It’s three o’clock
It’s three o’clock
It’s I-will-soon-be-free o’clock

The whimsical black and white illustrations by Kerry Millard add to the text. I especially liked the one of Moncrieff, Mrs McKeller’s butler with his imperious look and the humorous drawing that accompanies Uncle Norm.

My Sister Has a Big Black Beard and Other Quirky Verses

My Sister Has a Big Black Beard and Other Quirky Verses, by Duncan Ball, illustrated by Kerry Millard
HarperCollins Australia, 2009
PB RRP $14.99
This review first appeared online at Write and Read With Dale. It is reprinted here with permission.

This book is available online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.