Timothy Orley’s funny and clever children’s poems are collected in his delightful picture book Call In Well.
In these pages, Orley introduces children to the fun, limitless world of wordplay with poems on a variety of subjects— pizza, pirates, playing, siblings, superstitions, superheroes, and more—all relevant to its 3rd-4th grade target audience.
Most of Orley’s poems feature alternate-line rhyming and a humorous punchline delivered in the final stanza, such as the piece about the speaker’s penchant for falling asleep in many situations, which ends: “I can sleep through thunderstorms,/ The raining and the pouring./The only thing I can’t sleep through/ Is my brother’s snoring!” Several (including the aforementioned), deliver refrains that are echoed throughout. For example, the title piece, about a man who decides to skip work and make the most of his day, begins: “I didn’t go to work today./ I wasn’t sick or ill./ I simply called my boss to say/ I’m feeling way too well.” The last line of that stanza appears numerous times, sometimes slightly altered.
Regardless of form, Orley infuses each poem with bubbling energy and entertaining, often laugh-out-loud-funny arrangements of words. He also occasionally mixes in a heartfelt piece like “Good News,” which contrasts a child’s dismay at the negative tone of TV news with the child’s own “good” observations of people’s behavior around town. The book’s full page illustrations, colorful, cheery and expressive, enhance the text.
Although the poems mostly flow seamlessly, there are a few hiccups, such as “My New Friend,” in which a child struggles to remember a name, despite going through a rhyming A-to-Z list; the awkwardly worded ending detracts from its impact: “I just can’t remember his name to no end—/That’s the last time I make an imaginary friend.”
Nonetheless, Call In Well is a wonderful book for children to read with parents or alone and proves beyond doubt that reading, indeed, can be great fun.
Also available as an ebook.