Making a racket!

posted in: Quentin Blake | 12
Photo: Victoria Peckham
Photo: Victoria Peckham

Quentin Blake, his exuberant, funny illustrations and childhood go pretty much hand in hand I think. I know my own first 10 years were full of his drawings (for example in many of Roald Dahl’s books), and now he is one of the illustrators most frequently found on the bookcases which M and J have taken over. However, I didn’t know until recently he was also a poet!

ALL JOIN IN (both written and illustrated by Quentin Black) is short collection of poems fantastic for reading out loud (and by out loud I really mean LOUDLY) with children. First of all there is the joyous, eponymous All Join In which opens:

When Sandra plays the trumpet
it makes a lovely sound

And Mervyn on his drum-kit
can be hear for
miles around

Stephanie is brilliant
when she plays her violin

But the very best of all is when

Then there is a very mischievous peom, The Hooter Song, about well-meaning children (let’s give them the benefit of the doubt, shall we?) who like to use their (very) noisy instruments to cheer up or otherwise help anyone they perceive to be in need. Nice weather for ducks and Sliding capture quintessential joys of childhood, but my personal favourite is Sorting Out the Kitchen Pans, which opens:

We’re sorting out the Kitchen Pans

Sorting out the Kitchen Pans

Sorting out the Kitchen Pans

Soritng out the Kitchen Pans

Although not the most nuanced of poems, I think it is easy to imagine how this is great fun to read loudly and energetically with your kids, who you’ll find are all too keen to ALL JOIN IN!


So the poems are great fun, and then of course there are the illustrations – each page bursting with Blake’s colourful ,quirky and humourous illustrations which celebrate living life to the full. Altogether it adds up to a pretty near perfect book, and one I would wholeheartedly recommend you track down.

Ever since we discovered this book (for Β£1 in a charity shop!) the girls have been desperate to “sort out the kitchen pans” ie to empty all my kitchen drawers and bang all the saucepans, bread tins, cake tins, lids and anything else they find. Eventually I realised resistance was futile, and caved in (or rather I thought, “Here’s an opportunity for a bit of a spring clean with the help of the girls!” ;-)). They were of course delighted to be given permission to raid the drawers:


Everything was neatly arranged on a quilt….


And then the banging began! BING DONG BANG indeed!


As you can imagine this activity didn’t last a very long time – I may tolerate a lot of mess in the name of creativity but raucous banging can only be allowed to continue for so long, whatever the circumstances! Nevertheless, the kids had a wonderful time, and everything got put back in my drawers in a very neat and orderly manner. A few items I had thought were lost were even recovered from the detritus my kids unearthed! So all in all, not a bad way to spend a wintry afternoon!


ALL JOIN IN: *** (3 stars)

Whilst banging away we didn’t have any music on (we didn’t need to afterall), but we’ve since been listening to the rather more melodious:

  • Our Pot and Pan Band by Paul Borgese And The Strawberry Traffic Jam
  • March Past of the Kitchen Utensils (yes, really!) by Vaughan Williams, and
  • Shake Your Kitchen Down by The Kitchen Shakers

  • Our music making reminded me of two wonderful banging music projects:

  • Soulemama’s banging wall, and
  • Filth wizardry’s music tree
  • poetry fridayThis post is part of Poetry Friday, which is being hosted today by Mary Ann at Great Kid Books. For a rather quieter time than we’ve had here, why don’t you pop over and see what other poetry books and poems are being discussed today.

    12 Responses

    1. Bill

      Have you seen the new one illustrated by Quentin Blake? It’s called The Wild Washerwomen and it is funny!

    2. Caroline

      I love Quentin Blake’s illustrations! I’m a bit late to discovering him (I didn’t read much Roald Dahl when I was younger), but I just love his stuff. My favourite of his is Michael Rosen’s Sad Book; I also have a mini poster printout of The Reader’s Bill of Rights with Quentin Blake’s illustrations over my desk!

    3. Kristine

      I love Quentin Blake’s pictures. I use to have a book of funny poem of his, I’ll have to have a look around for it. He’s also written a few stories like Mr Magnolia and something like “–, melly and Me”

    4. Dad

      There is an apocryphal (i’m sure) story of me making a lot of noise, I think at Uncle Alex’s, and making it louder and louder and more persistently, and when asked why I replied that ‘I thought you couldn’t hear me’.
      Perhaps mums and dads desparate for an antidote to the racket could be offered the sleeping lions game, to bring the noise level down especially leading up to bedtime. xx

    5. Zoe

      Hello all!

      Bill – Wild Washerwomen is just fab isn’t it πŸ™‚

      MotherReader – You don’t see the big mound of stuff that doesn’t get done…. oh well, in the spirit of your Clean Slate motto I shall just enjoy the things I _do_ manage to get up to with the kids!

      Kristine – Do you mean The Giraffe, the Pelly and Me by Roald Dahl which Quentin Blake has illustrated?

      Dad!!! How lovely of you to stop by πŸ™‚ I love the story – but you, making a lot of noise? I don’t believe it πŸ˜‰

    6. Ashley

      Such happy memories of “sorting out the kitchen pans” when I read this with my elder two. Seems like just yesterday. This is a brilliant book and along with Mr Magnolia was a firm favourite, they’re such fun to read.

    7. Caroline Starr Rose

      I love Quentin Blake. A few years ago I discovered a picture book he’d written and illustrated, something about a car or a motorcycle.

      He’s illustrated the most recent version of THE RIGHTS OF THE READER, something that’s been sitting on my nightstand for months. What better illustrator to tackle a book about reading for pleasure?

    8. vanessa@silly eagle books

      I love the sound of this book! I am currently working on a series of music posts for my blog, so this is very timely for me. I will try to track this down in our library. How lucky that you found this at a charity store!

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