Enough falling asleep with the kids’ bedtime story book in my hands. I reached the conclusion that a good children book is only a good children’s book as long as the grown-ups enjoy reading it. (For best books for under two year olds look here). I am talking about small children who don’t yet read their own Charles Dickens at bedtime.
I spent ages yawning and reading idiotic and brain mushing babies/toddler’s books to my kids in the name of ‘educational’. They did the job: me and the kids fell asleep. I wasn’t too much into napping with a book in my hand and a child in my lap and waking up with a neck ache. So I’ve put a stop to it. We’ve started reading Rudyard Kipling, even though I knew my kids are too small to make any sense out of it, we rediscovered Dr Seuss which is fantastic and educational, however we grew bored with the same stories after a while, we read Julia Donaldson’s The Gruffalo and the rest books that followed, great reads with rhyme and rhythm in them, but again we grew out of them.
When I came across A Children’s Treasury of Milligan: Classic Stories and Poems I thought ‘this is the best children’s book I ever read’. After this book, I’ll never read a dull book again however educational (that’s the school’s job). Story time with mum and dad should be enjoyable not boring and that’s what Spike Milligan created with his books for children.
Spike Milligan’s children’s verses, short stories, rhymes and longer stories within this book, have put the fun and friendship back into our story times, bedtime or not. The book is delightfully funny, silly but wise and full of subtle ironies that will indeed put a smile on my face. I never fall asleep with one of his books in my hands and the kids started appreciating the advantages of memorizing the funny rhymes and delighting their aunties and friends with them.
‘Spike Milligan and his family, live in a wonderful land: the land of Bumbley Boo where they sell lemon pie at the zoo, they never wear clothes and never blow noses’. Well not really – this is just what my kids tell everyone.Spike Milligan’s publishing career began over forty years ago when Silly Verse for Kids was published in 1959. These poems were inspired by listening to his own children, and subsequently his grandchildren, and marveling at the way they could invent new words or incorporate sound effects into their everyday language.
Spike did not regard children as small adults, but as entirely different species who lived in a secret, magical world that very few adults understood.
For decades he dived into this world, delighting children – and adults – of all ages with his poems and stories.
Thanks to the Silly Verse for Kids many of which are also included in A Children’s Treasury
my kids know now that the general of the army thought “the war is barmy so he thrown away his gun; now he’s having so much fun” .
They also learned to understand their granny, her life issues and the consequences of the weather a little better:
“Through every nook and every cranny
The wind blew in on poor old Granny
Around her knees, into each ear
(And up nose as well, I fear)
All through the night the wind grew worse
It nearly made the vicar curse
The top had fallen off the steeple
Just missing him (and other people)
It blew on man, it blew on beast
It blew on nun, it blew on priest
It blew the wig off Auntie Fanny-
But most of all, it blew on Granny! ”
Children’s Treasury of Milligan, containing verses, short stories and two delightfully funny longer stories: ‘The Bald Twit Lion’ and ‘Sir Nobonk and the Terrible, Awful, Dreadful, naughty, Nasty Dragon’ raised our spirits in the long winter nights, and kept us happily amused while lying on the beach. It has rhymes and some stories with hidden ironies that only a bigger child will get, however the kids like them anyway and little by little they start to get the jokes as there’s something for everyone in there, even for 2 year old’s: “Today I saw a little worm, wriggling on its belly. Perhaps he’d like to come inside and see what’s on the telly'”. I can’t think of a better collection of poems to help children hear, understand and appreciate humor within poetry.
We had the book for a year now and my kids, being now very competent readers, are reading it back to me. And I’m not pretending to listen, not faking amusement. I am laughing my head off!
More titles from Spike Milligan:
- Mini Milligan Collection: ” Silly Verse for Kids ” , ” Book of Milliganimals ” , ” Unspun Socks from a Chicken’s Laundry ” (Puffin Books)
- Badjelly the Witch– charming fairy tale which has delighted my children for many years. This book is copiously illustrated with Spike Milligan’s own drawings which have been specially adapted and beautifully hand coloured.
- The Magical World of Milligan– is a sparkly new children’s compendium that gathers together a grand selection of Milligan favourites, including such delightful poems and stories as ‘On the Ning Nang Nong’, ‘The Terrible Monster Jelly’ and lots of Twits.