3 out of 4 stars
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Rita Dove says, " Poetry is language at its most distilled and most powerful." As such, it's something we should introduce children to at a young age. Hence the aim of A Clock with Feet by Miss Henny.
A book of poetry for children, there are lessons to be found. From loving yourself to materialism to being true to yourself, the book aims to teach children in a fun way. To bring the point home, Miss Henny uses verses from the Bible at the end of every poem. I wouldn't go so far as to say the book is Christian, but those with an aversion to anything religious should avoid the book.
That's not to say all the poems have a message. Some are just fun and silly. The Monkeys Wear Plaid simply talks about monkeys in the jungle who wear plaid, which will create fun images in a child's head. In these cases, some of the Bible verses are a stretch.
One of my favorite poems was aptly named Tree Bark. In the last line, the author states: "Instead of tree bark, I have tree meow." While simple, it still made me laugh out loud.
Also enjoyable were the illustrations which appeared between every two or three poems. The drawings were simple but still colorful. Hand drawn, these could easily be duplicated by artistic children. In fact, a great activity to complement the book would be to draw pictures for the poetry without illustrations. The font was simple, black, and readable.
Miss Henny uses rhyme in all of her poetry. Synonyms were used to enhance several poems as well. However, that was the extent of the devices she uses. There were no interesting line breaks or unconventional formatting, which I thought was a bit of a flaw, as it would have made the book more entertaining.
In the way of flaws, several of the poems were merely inane. I couldn't figure out a point to them at all, so I'm unsure how children would. For example, there was one about a cold balloon that won't fly. In the end, the author states that this balloon is only an ice cooler.
In addition, the vocabulary was, at times, too advanced for the intended audience, elementary aged kids. For instance, one of the poems discusses oyster crackers, which I'm not sure children will know about. There is even mention of an animal named a zorilla; this was one I hadn't even heard of.
As for errors, poetry is always difficult to assess. The author is given great liberty as far as punctuation and word choice. The only issue I found was the use of the word "them" (as in "them clouds") where "those" would be more correct and wouldn't change the meaning of the poem or the rhyme scheme.
Overall, A Clock with Feet is fun, entertaining, and has important lessons to learn. Therefore, I give it 3 out of 4 stars. For the difficult vocabulary and nonsensical poems, I removed one star. Any young child would enjoy these poems. Families could read this together and discuss the meaning behind the poetry. Creative parents could even make activities based around the poetry for their children.
A clock with Feet
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