Collector of Things & Other Poems by Riya Aarini

Collector of Things & Other Poems by Riya Aarini
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Middle Grade (8 – 12 y.o.), Contemporary
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Collector of Things & Other Poems is an illustrated collection of light verse for children. Featuring whimsical characters, like Millionaire Montgomery and the Bigalaboo, this collection of over one hundred humorous poems is sure to inspire bellyfuls of giggles!

Sometimes the smallest things in life turn out to be more important than anyone would have imagined.

One of my favorite themes that was explored here had to do with how we should all respond to people who are different from us in some way. “Country Twang” talked about a farmer who pronounced certain words so similarly that no one could tell which one he meant. What made me smile as I read this was how gentle and accepting the narrator was of his uncommon speech patterns. His accent was one of the unique things about him, and the audience was encouraged to embrace him exactly as he was. This theme continued on with entries like “Long Underwear,” in which Benny Blare insisted on wearing long underwear everywhere he went. That’s the sort of message I love seeing, especially when it’s written for impressionable kids who might be confused by someone who speaks a little differently from others or who dresses out of the norm for whatever reason.

There were some poems that I wasn’t sure many children this age would understand due to their subject matter or the open-ended way their final lines were written. For example, “Sweet Deal” discussed a kid named Lou who agreed to eat all of his meals if candy was the only thing he was expected to eat. The premise was adorable, but the final lines were so vague about why his deal didn’t go through that I’d expect to need to explain them to the little ones in my life. “Conversation,” a poem about gossip, was another example of this. It’s point was once again hinted at but never outright stated. The pattern repeated itself with other poems, too. This technique works well for adult readers, but it’s not something I think is as effective for kids who are still such concrete thinkers.

With that being said, there were moments of pure delight in this book. “Contagious” appeared early on and it made me rethink my understanding of that word in the most lovely way. Without giving away too many hints about that one, diseases aren’t the only things we can catch from each other! “Chocolate Sea” was another winner in my opinion. The title was beautifully descriptive and the sea itself sounded like my version of paradise. Who wouldn’t want to be surrounded by chocolate, after all? The author was at her best when she took common words or phrases like these and examined them from angles that most people wouldn’t think to use.

Collector of Things & Other Poems was a whimsical collection that I’d recommend to poetry fans of all ages.

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