Burdensome chores, wild hair days, and bizarre animals — all have served as inspiration for modern children’s poets. Husband and wife team, Tom and Tess Hannah, have combined their talents to pen a collection of their own entertaining rhymes for school-aged children in a slender, black-and-white volume.
The Hannah’s are admitted fans of Shel Silverstein and The Endless String displays clear evidences of this admiration. From the black and white line drawings on starkly white pages, to a certain sense of zany fun in the poems themselves, those who have also enjoyed his work can glimpse echoes of Silverstein’s work in these pages.
Having served as a language arts teacher for nearly twenty years, Tess Hannah’s familiarity with the English language is a boon for this collection. While many works of amateur poets struggle through awkward rhyme schemes and imperfect rhythms, the Hannah’s work is largely free of these stumbling blocks to the oral sharing of enjoyable poetry. Tess’ drawings also enliven the pages with interest grabbing, off-the-wall illustrations. My children always want to read the poems that have accompanying pictures over those without.
The Endless String provided the first piece of poetry my daughter loved enough to memorize. A nameless poem involving a girl and her horsie rings with the cadence of hoofbeats when recited. A true treasure that can be performed with shifts in speed, and counts on the unstated as much as the apparent for humor, this little gem has brought much excitement and laughter into the life of our family.
With fully 69 poems included of varying lengths, from limericks, to free-form, and those as long as nine stanzas, a wide range of material is covered. However, with no table of contents or index it may be difficult to locate favorites, or topically appropriate poems for educational use. At only 60 pages there’s always the option of simply flipping through the pages, but this want of a navigational system is surely felt.
By exaggerating common childhood predicaments and emotions and mixing the world of the mundane with the fantastical, the Hannah’s have captured a spirit of playful exploration that will delight both young and old.