I’m a huge fan of A.F. Harrold’s stories but I also enjoy his wild and wacky poems too. His latest collection of poems, The Book of Not Entirely Useful Advice, illustrated with flair by Mini Grey, is one of the coolest poetry collections ever!
The Book of Not Entirely Useful Advice is packed full of exactly that – advice of all kinds that may or may not be useful. Did you know, for example, that you should never serve soup to a cat, never put a rock in a roll, don’t put mustard on a dog, don’t kiss anything with a hiss, and don’t use an octopus for a hat? You’ll learn about the general dangers of broccoli, how to help yourself to cheer up, how to dance like a poet, and what makes a bad belt. There is advice to make you laugh, cringe, ponder, or just go ‘huh?’
I absolutely love this book! A.F. Harrold and Mini Grey have created a gorgeous book that begs you to pick it up. The title alone is intriguing and makes you wonder what advice you might find inside. When you open the covers you find a collection of silly, absurd, funny, and thoughtful poems that kids of all ages (and adults) will love. The book is split into different sections, with titles like ‘Advice mainly relating to animals, giants and the natural world,’ and ‘Advice mainly relating to school life, onions and general-knowledge-type stuff.’ The book is illustrated throughout by Mini Grey whose illustrations are bright and full of silliness. I especially love her illustration of mini-A.F. Harrold who keeps popping up in poems throughout the book.
There are so many poems that I loved in this collection. ‘Inside’ perfectly captures the feeling of being lost in a book, ‘Silences’ is about appreciating the silence around us, and ‘Say something nice’ is about taking the time to say something nice to those around us. A.F. Harrold has also created The Advice-a-Tron 216 which is designed to give you some ready-at-hand advice when someone asks you for some. There are three columns, with a beginning, a middle and an end to choose. You just have a to roll a six-sided dice three times to come up with your advice. It might be ‘Always squeeze a banana’ or ‘If lost point at a man called Greg.’ There is even a blank Advice-a-Tron 216 in the back of the book that you can photocopy and fill in with your own suggestions. This would be a really fun activity to do in class.
The Book of Not Entirely Useful Advice is a must-have addition to every school library poetry collection but would also make a wonderful gift for children of all ages. It will be a poetry book that will be enjoyed again and again.