________________ CM . . . . Volume VIII Number 14 . . . . March 15, 2002

cover Mama Likes to Mambo.

Helaine Becker. Illustrated by John Beder.
Toronto, ON: Stoddart Kids, 2001.
32 pp., cloth, $19.95.
ISBN 0-7737-3316-7.

Subject Heading:
Children's poetry, Canadian (English).

Kindergarten-grade 3 / Ages 5-8.

Review by Ian Stewart.

**** /4

excerpt:

I woke up in a muddle

In the middle of a puddle

Had the poodle made a piddle in the middle

Of the night?

 

Was the puddle poodle piddle

Or had I leaked a little

And made a piddle of my own, was the riddle

Of the night.

 

Did I dare take a peek

To see who took a leak

By switching on my light in the middle

Of the night?

 

Hoorah! It wasn't piddle

Only water spilled a little

And the piddle riddle petered out that

Puddle muddle night.

          Sleepwalker's Dilemma.

Unbelievably, this collection is Helaine Becker's first foray into children's poetry, and, with it, she has created a quirky collection of 16 delightfully energetic poems which will enchant kids and teachers equally.

     Her liveliness in Mama Likes to Mambo has a driving get-up-and-go attitude that will give early years classrooms oomph as the students Boogie down rambalam/Really jam rambalam.

     Becker joyfully and imaginatively uses language that will have the kids chuckling when reading the poem of Sparkle the Spaniel, who, we find, had an inferior barkle, but fortunately got help for his yelp and became king of the parkle. Becker skillfully captures the sounds and essence that make-up those hot, magical, childhood summer days at the beach, the community pool, or perhaps even in the backyard in "Down by the Bay" when she writes that "The slip-slap,slip-slap of a flip-flop/Sings the song of summer." And, what dinosaur-infatuated child wouldn't love to learn a Christmas poem called "A Jolly Jurassic Christmas in which

     The Stego-chorus sounded swell

     When it sang "Noel, Noel"

     But as the carolers came to greet him

     T-Rex felt he had to eat them!

     Without going into every poem, let's just say that they are all engaging, sparkling, inventive, and inspired. If Helaine Becker continues writing poetry, she will surely join the ranks of Canada's most popular and important children's authors.

Highly Recommended.

Ian Stewart is an early years teacher in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364

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