cover image The Book of Not Entirely Useful Advice

The Book of Not Entirely Useful Advice

A.F. Harrold, illus. by Mini Grey. Bloomsbury, $19.99 (160p) ISBN 978-1-54760-677-1

A sly, tongue-in-cheek ambiance pervades British poet Harrold’s collection of sometimes questionable counsel on matters ranging from unconventional (“Gravy Is Not Perfume”) to practical (“If you’re worried your teacher’s going to shout at you/ because you’ve not done your homework,/ do your homework”). Divided into four sections—“mainly relating” to food, ducks, and dessert; animals, giants, and the natural world; school life, onions, and general knowledge; and the human condition, dreams, and miscellaneous—the poems vary widely from the tender “Moon” (“You can see the sky through it/ like/ your mother’s heart/ through her frown”) to the morbid “Zombie Monitor,” with its central image of bloodied fingers and eyeballs. Grey’s lively, vividly colored pictures inspire giggles, as when giant slices of toast threaten to swallow the words of “The Most Toast.” Interactive features include blank spaces for readers to fill with words or pictures, and an appealing “Advice-a-Tron” chart, which invites readers to use dice to assemble more than 216 different pieces of advice. Occasional Briticisms such as jumper and jumble sale may be unfamiliar to U.S. readers, but they don’t take away from the charm of these idiosyncratically amusing poems and nuggets of quirky advice. Ages 8–12. [em](Mar.) [/em]