Edward Lear, Father of the Limerick, published one hundred new limericks in 1872. They were his last, and they sank like a stone. Nobody now remembers them.
Why, when his Book of Nonsense limericks are still with us after a century and a half?
Because by 1872, the limerick was all grown up and living its own life, romping towards the twentieth century with outlandish, irreverent and often obscene delight. Readers wanted limericks with a punch line now, a joke at the end; and Edward Lear couldn’t, or wouldn’t, provide it.
His style was obsolete.
So, having set the limerick on its journey, he now stood alone and watched it vanish in the distance.
Book One of Limericks After Lear, The Fifth Line, took A Book of Nonsense as its starting point and crafted 112 new limericks with a twist at the end.
Now, Book Two does the same for the forgotten verses of 1872, presenting one hundred original Lears, plus a brand new, family-friendly limerick for each - with a twist in the tail.
The Next Hundred Lears … Two hundred limericks you won’t have met before. And they just might make you giggle :)
This book is a delight.
Edward Lear, who apparently still holds the title of Father of the Limerick, wrote a lot of them. They are classically quaint, but that last line in every rhyme is a stinker. It's either a near repeat of the first line or ends with the same last word as the first line. It never adds new ideas or humor to the poem.
Enter John Nichol, who presents one of Lear's 1872 limericks on each page and follows it with his own take on the poem. Nichol breaks free of the Lear mold and has ended each of his own verses with eight or nine very funny syllables that create a new level of sophistication and humor. This contrast is so obvious after reading the first few poems that I recognized the flaw in Lear's versions without even reading Nichol's introduction first.
I wondered, as I read - and laughed - if this modern-day author would include any of our singular current events in his rhymes, and he does. One poem names Covid outright, and not too seriously, but I had run across another limerick earlier in the book that made what I suspected to be an oblique reference, in a different language. (See if you can find it. )
This book would make an excellent resource for family or classroom reading; one limerick per day at the dinner table or during classtime will definitely be a treat for the reader and the listeners of most ages, and Rory Walker's illustrations will please everyone. I can find no flaws and see no reason to give this very pleasurable book anything less than five stars.
If you love this book (and you will), be sure to check out Nichol's first volume of limericks as well. You can find links to his work at the end of the book.
I am a reader with ten years of bookselling experience who is passionate about sharing my love of books with others. My goal is to be direct and relatable, with hopefully a little humor thrown in.