Michael Rosen and the boomerang apple – Nick Green

Recently my elder son Oscar got stuck on a piece of homework. He moaned, ‘Our teacher wants us to write out a list of homophones and I can only think of one.’ His mum went over to help him and found that he’d written, at the top of his sheet of paper, ‘Nigel Farage’. She frowned a moment before exploding into giggles. ‘No, darling,’ she explained, ‘he’s a homophobe.’


Oscar has from time to time struggled with the demands of English lessons. I can’t say I’m entirely surprised, when they often involve the taxonomy of words into nouns and verbs and adverbs and adjectives, which even my wife (who is far better read than I am) admits to muddling up. But what has puzzled me is that Oscar has to date shown little or no interest in reading. We’re told that we must read to our children, that we must fill our houses with books and let children discover this wonderful world… mate, you’d sprain an ankle on all the books in my house, I have to be bullied and kicked into remembering to care about anything except books. They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, but in the case of Oscar it has sometimes seemed as if the apple bounced, rolled and then got kicked by Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey right out of the orchard (Oscar is into football instead).

Michael Rosen

Until, that is, his class started reading Michael Rosen’s poems. Oscar fell head over heels for Michael’s zany readings on YouTube of poems like ‘Strict’ (where the teacher forbids breathing in class) and ‘Chocolate Cake’ (in which a young Michael accidentally eats a whole chocolate cake). So I was delighted when Oscar told me he was going to do a similar performance himself in his class assembly. He showed me the poem he was going to perform and I read it, chuckled at its typical zaniness, vintage Rosen I thought - if a little more bizarre even than usual. I asked Oscar, ‘Did you choose it yourself, or did the teacher choose it for you?’ He looked at me as if I was stupid. ‘I didn’t choose it,’ he said. ‘I wrote it. This is my Michael Rosen poem.’

I hope Oscar won’t mind if I share his poem with you. Yes, I can see now it’s by a nine-year-old, but for a few moments there… I don’t know how Michael Rosen made such a massive impression on him, but it was certainly something to see him perform it in assembly, from memory, with all the expressiveness and actions that he’d mimicked from Michael’s performances. He’d still be a footballer rather than a writer any day, he reminds me.

April Fools  - by Oscar Darvell-Green (after Michael Rosen)

On the first of April,
I got a Christmas present,
And another and another.

I don’t know why,
Was it my birthday?
So I opened the first present,
And inside was…
A chicken nugget.

My parents shouted.
After that I got furious,
And stomped upstairs,
To make plans for revenge.

Two minutes later…
A bird flew past our house.
Ten minutes later …
And I had a plan.

I made lunch.
My Mum wanted bacon on toast,
And my Dad wanted big-sized beef burger.

I went to get chilli from the cupboard.
For Mum’s order I put chilli on the toast,
Then put bacon on the toast,
Then chilli on the bacon.

“That’s all done” I thought.
Now, my Dad likes chilli,
(He basically likes everything)
Apart from paper.

I made paper bread,
And put a paper beef burger inside,
Now, that’s it (my brother, Apple, was round Banana’s house)
So I said “April f… oh! Lunch time.”

My dad came in and had a big, huge bite
Into the burger,
My Mum however put her face
In the food.
“April rules!“ I shouted.


MunirGhiasuddin said…
A chicken nugget is better than a paper hamburger.
Susan Price said…
But a paper hamburger is better than a plastic sausage.
Lee said…
Don't knock the football (no punishment intended): one of my youngest son's best cello teachers (solo cellist with a solid German orchestra & university professor) trained to be a footballer till his mid- to late teens. That poem is amazing for a nine-year-old!
Bill Kirton said…
Glad he's seen the light, Nick. Great poem. By the way, given their salaries, I'd rather be a footballer than a writer, too.
I love this! Love it when kids just write - so wonderfully - and before somebody has told them they're 'doing it wrong' as so often happens. By the way, don't worry about the reading. I had a nine year old who wouldn't read novels once upon a time. House full of books and still only liked illustrated non-fiction mostly about disasters, shipwrecks, exploding airships and so on. Now, some 20 years later, he's a professional video game designer and maintains the early interest in disasters was all about creating video game scenarios! (And he reads for pleasure as well.)
Jan Needle said…
i wrote wagstaffe the wind-up boy for my eleven-year-old son because he'd never read a book in his life. he read it a dozen times on the trot. since then? he's never read another book. plays football, though...
conclusion? search me.
Lydia Bennet said…
Great poem Nick! Good for Oscar. Bairns who aren't keen on reading books may prefer poems as they are in smaller 'bites' and involve fun stuff like performance. He may also prefer to read non-fiction like 'top trumps' cards and football facts. Or reading online stuff on computer/phone. My bro wouldn't read as a boy but does now, like so many others. You've set the example, (so has Mr Rosen) that's all we can do. Making reading seem like work or an obligation is a sure way to put them off for longer so you've clearly done the right thing by having books to trip over left about the place!
Wendy H. Jones said…
Loved it. I don't usually like poetry but this hit the right spot with me. If he brought out a book of poems I'd buy it
Mari Biella said…
A career as a footballer may well be more lucrative, but given this early evidence I think he might also be bound for a career in the arts!
madwippitt said…
Susan Price is right. We have a string of plastic sausages and they are pants.

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