Hoyman’s playful but informative debut collection introduces children to the joy of limerick poetry while delivering fun facts about an array of subjects from everyday life and history. Every page contains a fully illustrated limerick mini-comic and additional information about the poem’s meaning, inviting readers to soak up knowledge. The varied topics include the jewelry-packed tombs of ancient Egypt, the origin of roller coasters in Russia, the biological importance of a pesky fruit fly, and Joseph Aspdin’s creation of Portland cement in his own kitchen.
Each illustration employs traditional cartooning, eye-catching colors, and outlandishly hyperbolic imagery that brings some humor to an otherwise ordinary lesson. A glossary is also included to help those who are hungry for learning but may stumble over terms such as bioluminescence and shtick. Alongside pages on science and history, such as one discussing how the first mail systems worked via stagecoach, steamships, and the Pony Express, Hoyman includes limericks about food safety (with vivid illustrations of moldy cheese), the dangers of smoking and benefits of getting adequate sleep, and the role of local government in the community.
Even when discussing complex subjects, Hoyman keeps the language simple (“A caveman all covered with dust/ Could briskly make flint stones combust”). Young readers will have no trouble enjoying and absorbing the entire collection, whether by picking a poem at random or reading from cover to cover. With the subject matter changing from page to page, the book excels at keeping readers’ attention while planting the seeds for an early appreciation of poetry, art, history, science, and civics. This witty and fun little book, displayed on a Kindle or Nook or read by flashlight, is sure to delight any reader who gives it a look.
Takeaway: For young readers and parents alike, this collection of factoid limericks will be a great introduction to poetry while delivering interesting knowledge and good laughs.
Great for fans of Mick Twister’s There Was an Old Geezer Called Caesar: A History of the World in 100 Limericks, Garrison Keillor’s Living with Limericks, the Oxford English Dictionary in Limerick Form project.
Production grades Cover: A Design and typography: A Illustrations: A Editing: A Marketing copy: A
Collected limericks for children ages 8 to 12 humorously present factual tidbits from science and history with comic-book-style illustrations.
In his debut book, Hoyman combines two forms that kids love—limericks and comic books—to offer one-page lessons on various subjects. Five panels, one for each line of the limerick (sometimes with additional comments from characters in word balloons), are followed by a sixth with more information. The opening limerick, for example, concerns jesters: "The jester was called by the King, / To tell a few riddles and sing. / Instead of his shtick, / He "pigeoned" in sick, / And was exiled up north of Peking." The jester can be seen telling the beginning of a joke ("Did you hear the one about the bubonic plague?"), juggling, sending a messenger pigeon to the king while enjoying a day off fishing, and finally being tossed over the Great Wall of China. The sixth panel explains how jesters entertained kings and noblemen and what "exile" means. Other topics, in no particular order, include animals, such as anglerfish and chimpanzees; history and culture, such as the Pony Express, lamplighters, and clowns; and inventions, such as concrete. A glossary is included. Hoyman's limericks generally scan and rhyme well, and background information is always interesting. One entry, based on what may be a true story, introduces readers to Sadie "the Goat" Farrell, a Hudson River pirate known for head-butting people. She lost her left ear—bitten off, as the sixth panel explains, by Gallus Mag, a New York City tavern bouncer. Some limericks are gross, a few didactic, and many straightforwardly informational. No sources are provided for these facts, but they seem sound; "caveman," however, is an obsolete term. Feldman (Noah Learns To Share, 2017, etc.) varies his panels in size and distance (wide, medium, and close-up shots), giving them depth with good shadowing and a rich palette. His human figures are diverse and somewhat stylized but show expression well.
Both amusing and instructive, with broad appeal and excellent illustrations.