A Kid in My Class

The eponymous ‘kid’ in this exuberant collection from prize-winning poet Rooney is a wildly varying type – there’s the football-mad one, the self-obsessed (presented in haiku form with the word ‘me’ repeated seventeen times), the compulsive fibber, the nondescript ‘Joe Bloggs’. There’s also the serial best-friender, the fidgeter and the queen bee who’s always first – with everything.

This is not a completely blithe collection – sensitive themes are also explored: the death of a classmate is deftly covered in the short and pathos-free ‘Friendship Bench’. A child in a wheelchair is full of exotic reasons why his legs don’t work – he ‘fell a full five miles from the top of Everest’. The tough kid who’s a bit of a bully is that way for a reason, we’re guided to think by the illustration of the looming shadow of his dad taking up much of the page. Teachers also get a mention – the faceless substitute, the well-loved teaching assistant.

The roll-call ends with the class hamster’s rhythmic treatise on all the knowledge he’s absorbed while running on his wheel during lessons – a good one to read aloud. Look out for its cameo appearance on many pages!

Every poem has a portrait, as well as an often fantastical interpretation of the character in question, skilfully drawn in blue ink by Riddell. Older readers will appreciate the visual messages which abound.