You Tell Me! by Roger McGough, Michael Rosen and Korky Paul (illustrator)

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You Tell Me! by Roger McGough, Michael Rosen and Korky Paul (illustrator)

Category: Children's Rhymes and Verse
Rating: 2.5/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: Resurrected to show the link between both these famous poets goes back a long way, but this book just didn't add to their appeal to me whatsoever.
Buy? No Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 96 Date: January 2015
Publisher: Frances Lincoln Children's Book
ISBN: 9781847804440

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All life can be in poetry – the hectic schedule of a person forever popping somewhere, the policeman living in a world of bad puns, an uncle who may or not have brought memories of sniper fire back from war. All of life it seems on this evidence can be poetry – football results, memoir, advice to counter bullies. All people in this life can be poets – and the way I reacted to a lot of this collection, perhaps it's just as well.

The original You Tell Me came out just as the 1970s were closing, which shows the lengths of the authors' careers and how long they have been esteemed in their field. It was more or less alternating between the two wordsmiths, and now it has been brought back, with a few extra works – this time round Roger has a piece of the same name and it's not just Michael with the title poem. The two distinctive voices still ring from the page – having seen Roger live I can easily get his cadence and punning in my head, and it still feels like the two went hand in glove, like some weird modern Auden and MacNeice skittering around Iceland.

But skitter they do, and that's where the problem lies. If you get past the tongue twisters and the silly punning, which did admittedly make me titter once or twice (before the same joke was repeated in verse three of the same poem), you get so much that is of little consequence. Someone swallows a metal object – the end. So? Did it come back up, or down, or what? Don't leave us hanging. Poetry might be a description of a moment, but you can shake that definition til it bruises, as a lot of the contents here prove. This book will flood the young reader with blank verse, which might or might not be a bad thing, but too many of the observations are so passable, so fragmentary, so ill-defined, ill-focused and ill-concluded that I just don't see any child turning the page corners down to mark their favourites more than two or three times. I warmed to the boy whose hat was pinched from his head, but I saw the farcical as flawed, the observation as absurd and the detail as just dotty. Disappointing.

I must still thank the publishers for my review copy.

See You Later, Escalator by John Foster is a wider and better compilation, in our eyes.

Buy You Tell Me! by Roger McGough, Michael Rosen and Korky Paul (illustrator) at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy You Tell Me! by Roger McGough, Michael Rosen and Korky Paul (illustrator) at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy You Tell Me! by Roger McGough, Michael Rosen and Korky Paul (illustrator) at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy You Tell Me! by Roger McGough, Michael Rosen and Korky Paul (illustrator) at Amazon.com.


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