Saturday 18 May 2019

Moon Fish

Moon Fish by Harry Laing with various illustrators (Ford Street Publishing) RRP $16.95 PB ISBN 9781925804256

Reviewed by Nean McKenzie

Moon Fish is the second book of poems for children written by comedic performer Harry Laing and illustrated by eighteen different artists, including well-known illustrators Shaun Tan, Leigh Hobbs and Mitch Vane. Named after one of the poems (illustrated by Lucia Masciullo), Moon Fish states its aim on the cover:  'Poems to make you laugh and think’. The variety of illustrations accentuate each poem's individuality with colour and style.

The poems are mostly quite silly, which should appeal to the readership of primary school children. And as I found, they are funnier when read aloud. It would work well as an audio book. Some of the poems rhyme, others are more of a rap style, while others use much of repetition. There’s an Australian theme, with poems about goannas, emus (or he-mus), magpies and even a Diprotodon. Some are about creepy crawlies like spiders, ants, termites and snails. There are also a couple about a ‘Yumbie’ and a ‘Grack’ whatever they are!

This is the sort of book where every reader can choose a favourite poem, as the different styles and illustrations make them all unique. The pictures add character and vibrance to the writing and the cut-out style of the title on the cover is also effective. The Swooper Mag poem (illustrated by Tony Flowers) – ‘I’m a mean mean bird, I’m a bad magpie’ was my personal highlight. Anyone who has been attacked by one of these birds in Springtime will appreciate it! 

Moon Fish is a book written to be appreciated by kids. Reminiscent of Spike Milligan’s silly verses (although less rhyming), it’s a bit of fun with some high quality pictures, ready to be read and enjoyed by ages six plus.

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