Brett Fleishman introduces young readers to puns, idioms, and wordplay in his fun, rhyming picture book Twist and Shout!
In the 33 short, poems of Twist and Shout!, Fleishman aids young readers by indicating the presence of a pun with a “(p)” and an idiom with an (“i”). He ends many of his poems with these devices, keeping things mostly humorous; a bet for “twenty bucks” results in the delivery of a truck with twenty deer inside, and he plays on “Sundays” vs. “sundaes” in the poem “Everyday Feelings.” “If the Shoe Doesn’t Fit” features a number of people who exhibit traits that are exactly the opposite of their names: “Ernest? He is insincere./ Sandy hates the beach I hear//…Mason doesn’t like to build/ Faith has never felt fulfilled/ Frank deceives. He’s full of lies./ Angel flashes evil eyes”
Because many kids will be unfamiliar with the plain-English meanings of “frank” or “earnest,” and thus unable to get the joke, Fleishman’s explanatory notes at the end of the book are a valuable and rewarding addition, with detailed analysis of the wordplay in the poems.
Later, in a nice change of pace, Fleishman takes a break from humor to get inspirational with the poem “Obstacles”: “Pretend you couldn’t walk at all/ Or even drive a car / Could you still be President? Of course, like FDR!”
At times, Fleishman’s rhythm and meter can be uneven and tough to follow. Still, his lines contain consistent rhymes, arguably the most important element in a poem for children. Three “Zany Word Blender” puzzles break up the pages of poetry, offering a challenge, as well as variety. David Harston’s artwork provides the perfect accompaniment to Fleishman’s writing, helping to clarify the main point of each poem with a single, often amusing, image.
An enjoyable way for children to understand and appreciate the lighter side of the English language, Twist and Shout! is recommended for classrooms and libraries everywhere.