On the very last page of his light-hearted romp through the ins and outs of manners, Oh, How Sylvester Can Pester – And Other Poems More or Less About Manners, Robert Kinerk shares a secret:
Feel good. Feel glad. Feel proud. Feel right.
And the secret to that is just to be polite.
The poems in Oh, how Sylvester Can Pester describe what happens when one is NOT polite and what to do when one WANTS to be polite. If you’ve ever wondered about “What Will Happen To You If You Talk While You Chew?” or the appropriate moment to say, “Excuse Me”, Robert Kinerk provides a poem to guide you. There are also cautionary poems which describe, rather gleefully I might add, the catastrophes that occur when children don’t know how to comport themselves “At The Table” or “At The Movies.”
These are poems meant to be read aloud and shared, over giggles and smiles. Here is my favorite:
“May I Interrupt?”
When someone is speaking – a grown-up let’s say-
can you interrupt? In general, no way.
They’re exceptions to that, but they’re rare.
They occur in those instances where
lightening is flashing its bolts from the sky
and they land on your friend, or at least land near by,
or a hive’s been disturbed and the bees, in their wrath,
are aimed at your friend in a bullet-straight path.
In cases of bees or a bolt from the blue,
you may interrupt. In fact, dear, please do!
Charming, witty poems like these deserve like-minded illustrations, which is exactly why Drazen Kozjan’s whimsical paintings are perfect accompaniments. Humorous in their details, such as in the one below for “May I Interrupt?”, they are a treat in themselves.
I always make a habit of checking out author’s websites to learn a little more about their writing habits and the bits of wisdom they may have to share about the writing process. So, I was delighted to visit Kinerk’s site and discover that he liked to write (as I often do) early in the morning: “I like the morning hours because my mind feels innocent, and I believe ideas will come quickly then.” I love that phrase, “my mind feels innocent”! There IS that wonderful sense of freshness and quickness to those early morning writing sprees – when the right words and ideas seem to tumble out and almost write themselves. I also discovered that Kinerk writes musical plays with rollicking titles like The Great Winnipesaukee Steamboat Race and Musical Talent Contest, which I found myself repeating over an over just because I liked the sound of it!
As a reading and writing and history teacher who reads a lot of books for children and young adults, I loved what Robert Kinerk has to share about why he writes for children:
I feel that the best stories track the way a child sees the world, and the hopes he has for himself in it, or the fears he or she may have. I think a story that says, “You’re not the only one who feels that way, so you don’t have to feel strange,” is one that’s worth telling.