There’s nothing rotten about this wonderful book for children

There’s nothing rotten about this wonderful book for children
Really Rotten Rhymes

poems by Gabriel Fitzmaurice, illustrations by Alice Coleman (Mercier Press, €14.99/£13.99)

This is a book filled with the rude vitality of childhood, with equal measures of both qualities. It makes a wonderful read for those who have children still around them, or can remember anything at all of their own early years. This is true family life, naughty bits included. The Bard of Moyvane is to be congratulated on a creative hit.

This reissue of what is by way of being an Irish children’s classic is newly illustrated with very appropriate pictures. But it is the poems themselves that are really the guts of the book, which is indeed taken up largely with those rude things and thoughts with which children of all generations have loved to shock their parents, though not perhaps their grandparents. Mother may protest, but granny can remember when mother too was less than 10, and not the all-wise persona she now claims to be.

I can only recommend parents to buy the book, regardless of the fact that it appeals to that ‘adults keep out’ place that is so special to every child.

There is nothing twee or sentimental here at all; the voice is right on the button, albeit the belly button, for a lot of the time.

I love the whole thing. It is well informed by poet Fitzmaurice’s own experiences as teacher, grandfather, parent and (one imagines) child – though that must have been in some remote period, ancient enough to be called ‘the olden days’.