Tuesday, April 16, 2013

N is for Nonsense

by Kim Van Sickler

Who isn't amused by nonsensical words and situations at some point in his life? Nonsense makes us look at the familiar with new eyes, and not take life too seriously. It allows us to imagine limitless possibilities, ask questions, and ponder the answers.

Thanks to Dr. Seuss, I developed quite an appreciation for the absurd, and shared his stories with my own children. My favorite Dr. Seuss story is The Sleep Book, a book that is to be read in bed. It's about fantastical creatures all over the world and their bedding down rituals. Here's how it starts:
The news
Just came in
From the County of Keck
That a very small bug
By the name of Van Vleck
Is yawning so wide
You can look down his neck.

This may not seem
Very important, I know.
But it is. So I'm bothering
Telling you so.

When I became a little older, I developed a real fondness for Roald Dahl and his surreal adventures. Then my oldest stepdaughter introduced me to a couple of newer works I hadn't read yet. Books like The BFG. How can you resist this set-up?

Captured by a Giant! The BFG is no ordinary bone-crunching giant. He is far too nice and jumbly. It's lucky for Sophie that he is. Had she been carried off in the middle of the night by the Bloodbottler, the Fleshlumpeater, the Bonecruncher, or any of the other giantsrather than the BFGshe would have soon become breakfast. When Sophie hears that they are flush-bunking off to England to swollomp a few nice little chiddlers, she decides she must stop them once and for all. And the BFG is going to help her!

As an adult I discovered Louis Sachar. What a wit! What an imagination. His Wayside School stories had me chuckling at his brilliance. My reluctant reader youngest stepdaughter caught on to him immediately. She started with his Sideways Stories from Wayside School.

A crazy mixed-up school.

There'd been a terrible mistake. Wayside School was supposed to be built with thirty classrooms all next to each other in a row. Instead, they built the classrooms one on top of the other...thirty stories tall! (The builder said he was very sorry.)

That may be why all kinds of funny things happen at Wayside School...especially on the thirtieth floor. You'll meet Mrs. Gorf, the meanest teacher of all, terrible Todd, who always gets sent home early, and John who can only read upside downalong with all the other kids in the crazy mixed-up school that came out sideways. But you'll never guess the truth about Sammy, the new kid...or what's in store for Wayside School on Halloween!

What kind of nonsense do you like?


  1. Oh, I HAVE to read the Wayside School. Thanks so much for sharing this :)

  2. Sadly, I've never read a lot of Dr. Seuss, but I'm working on correcting that and a lot of books that I've missed in my life growing up. The Sleep Book looks like fun. Roald Dahl sounds like fun too. I read James and the Giant Peach and keep looking for others at thrift stores.

  3. thanks for a fun read first thing in the morning :D

  4. I completely agree about Dr. Seuss. He was so brilliant and made it all seem so easy. I'm sure that's why so many people (including me) imagined writing a rhyming PB would be simple. And it so wasn't. lol

  5. I LOVED Seuss! And just this year I FINALLY read The BFG after hearing so many great things about it. I found it charming and cute. I especially liked the ending of the book :)

    I do like nonsense, because it can be fun and uplifting. Sometimes, it's just what you need.

  6. You are so clever, Kim! I loved this! You have talent!

  7. Even as an adult, I still love nonsense. Life would be boring without it. Great Post! I loved it.

  8. Ohhhhh, all my favorites!!!! Way Side School is SOOOOO much fun! Awesome post. Make me want to get out those book.

    The Write Soil