The book of not entirely useful advice

A. F. Harrold, 1975-

Book - 2021

"Packed with silly rhymes and witty wordplay, A.F. Harrold's poetry is positively bursting with fun--and advice. But it's not always the most useful... "--

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Location Call Number   Status
Children's Room j811/Harrold Checked In
New York : Bloomsbury Children's Books 2021.
Main Author
A. F. Harrold, 1975- (author)
Other Authors
Mini Grey (illustrator)
Item Description
Includes index.
Physical Description
121 pages : color illustrations ; 27 cm
Ages 8-12.
Grades 2-3.
  • Warnings
  • A note for the reader
  • Advice mainly relating to food, ducks, and dessert
  • Advice mainly relating to animals, giants, and the natural world
  • Advice mainly relating to school life, onions, and general-knowledge-type stuff
  • Advice mainly relating to the human condition, dreams, and miscellaneous other subjects that didn't fit elsewhere
  • Final notes for the reader wishing to continue their adventure in advice.
Review by Booklist Review

In this generous poetry collection, previously published in the UK, Harrold offers rhymed and free-verse warnings to, for instance, avoid tigers lurking under your toast, ducks in your soup (Why? "I sip the soupy stuff . . . / which tastes like the underside / of a swimming duck"), and the "mushroomy feetiness" of Granny's Bourbonzola biscuits. Elsewhere he compares blackbirds and bananas (both "surprising, but not unheard of" pie fillings), wonders how to grow a lamppost ("Perhaps I'll plant a desk lamp / and water it each night"), catalogs "Silences" ("Cat paws through the garden. / Butterflies in flight. / Morning daisies yawning. / the slowly falling night"), and invites readers to create their own cautionary admonitions after filling the blank spaces in a mix-and-match "Advice-A-Tron." Grey's illustrations capture the freewheeling spirit of the poems with bright and funny images ranging from a hybrid banana-bird and a predatory-looking collage of photographed toast slices to an entire mixed spread of cakes and very similar-looking rocks that, luckily, comes with a key. The author generously offers refunds to any readers eaten by tigers.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

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. (Mar.)

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Review by Horn Book Review

Harrold (The Song from Somewhere Else, rev. 5/17) presents poems (a few repurposed from previous collections) full of practical and not-so-practical insights on topics ranging from compliment-giving to where not to dunk your biscuits. Some are in loosely metered rhyme, others in free verse, often in an amusingly formal voice. "Never muddle your lunch box and pencil case, / because wood and graphite don't taste / very nice. / (I only ever did this twice.)" It's all very silly, and sometimes gross ("Rabbit Risks") or dark ("Nasty Rabbit Poem") -- but it's clear, even without the introductory admonition to "use your brain and work out for yourself which bits to follow and which bits to ignore," that hardly anything is meant to be taken seriously. Adding to the sense of playfulness is the poems' varied placement in and around Grey's (Traction Man Is Here!, rev. 3/05) vibrantly colored illustrations, as well as occasional pages that encourage reader participation: a few blank spaces for writing or drawing; a fill-in-the-blanks "Advice-a-Tron 216." Make of the advice what you will, but enjoy -- and, seriously, don't put a crocodile in your ear. Shoshana Flax March/April 2021 p.106(c) Copyright 2021. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

Who wouldn't welcome a smattering of advice now and then? Even if some of its practicality seems questionable. This collection is divided into four sections "mainly relating" to broad topics such as food or animals. Explored largely in free verse are topics ranging from the many similarities between blackbirds and bananas, how many is too many tigers at a picnic, and the value of an onion for self-defense. Of course, there is a healthy mix of wordplay, absurdism, and the occasional actually profound thought. Harrold includes some interactive features, such as blank spaces for readers to contribute their own poems or drawings and the Advice-a-Tron 216, a chart that generates pieces of advice with a six-sided die. In addition to some pages of "free-floating advice" readers are encouraged to cut out, there is an index that locates both references within the book and sundry other things, like "where to find more" books ("the library"). This collection contains a fair amount of Briticisms (a poem called "Jumper" closes cheekily with a joke about "a sweater") that may require some help for readers new to them. As observed in the initial "Note for the Reader," Grey's illustrations are "beautifully colorful," with a fancy-free, sketchlike quality characterized by dynamic lines and perspectives. The author, a White, bearded man, appears in a drawn incarnation throughout; of background human characters, only a couple read as people of color. A good bit of fun. (Poetry. 8-12) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.