Book review: His Shoes Were Far Too Tight by Edward Lear

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And here we have another book that I never intended to read.

My 2016 reading challenge requires me to read “a book of poetry.” I was going to read Sylvia Plath’s Ariel, but I couldn’t find a copy. Then I was going to read Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming, which isn’t quite a book of poetry, but is written in verse, so I figured it would count. After weeks of waiting for my hold to come in at the library, I found that there were still three people ahead of me, so there would be no way to even receive it before the end of the year. Eventually, frustrated and nearly giving up, I filtered my library’s database by “genre: poetry” and “status: available.” There was one book. This was it.

I’m not really a poetry kind of person. I remember when we did a whole poetry unit during my sophomore year of high school. We spent every day of English class analyzing poems. “Fill the margins with your observations,” the teacher would demand. “Analyze the language. Analyze the rhyme scheme. Discuss the imagery. Why do you think the author chose to make the curtains gray? What does the fact that he references a pine tree rather than a maple tree mean?” UGH. I otherwise loved that teacher, but she absolutely killed any desire to ever read a poem again.

Can’t a poem just be a poem? Can’t we just appreciate it for the way it sounds and the feelings it evokes? So, obviously, with that said, I’m not going to be doing an in-depth analysis of these nonsense poems.

What I will say is that I can see how children would appreciate these poems. They are silly. The words don’t always make sense. They’re definitely made to be read aloud. The illustrations are cute. I probably would have enjoyed this book more as a child than I did as a twenty-six-year-old only picking it up to fulfill a checkbox on a reading challenge, but all in all, it wasn’t a bad way to spend thirty minutes on a Wednesday night.

Final rating: ★★★☆☆

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