Wednesday, April 15, 2015


It is hard enough to rhyme for half a page but how do you sustain it for an entire novel?  The person to ask is Robert Paul Weston, whose 250 page MG novel, Zorgamazoo, is told entirely in rhyme.  Not only is the rhyming splendid, the story itself is first rate.  It revolves around an unlikely alliance between a girl named Katrina and a monster named Morty.  The quest they embark on is hilarious and harrowing, fraught with ingenious fantasy and unforgettable villains.

We owe Mr. Weston a debt of gratitude for reminding us that the art of rhyming is not dead.  Unfortunately, for those of us who like to rhyme, and find it impossible not to do so on a regular basis, it is becoming harder and harder to find a publisher.  My agent, whose expertise I respect, has told me on several occasions that long rhyming picture books in the Dr. Seuss style are almost impossible to sell.  This is sad and confusing.  Why are editors so scared of rhyming?  What is the source of their aversion?  If a story rhymes why must it be considered uncommercial?

I did volunteer work for five years at the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. 

I walked around with a cart shaped like a cow called ‘The Book Moo-bile’.   Free books were handed out to sick children and to the brothers and sisters who came to visit them.  The children were allowed to picks their own books.  The cart had a huge selection to choose from.  Dr. Seuss was by far the most popular author.  Even teenagers reached for Horton and scurried off into a quiet corner to devour the linguistic magic.

For those of you in the world of Mayhem who love to rhyme, I say keep on doing it!  Hopefully rhyming will experience a renaissance in children’s literature.  If that does occur, Robert Paul Weston is one of the writers we shall thank.


  1. I've tried writing in rhyme before, and it's HARD to do.

    It's hard enough trying to write a picture book, whether it rhymes or not, so I have endless respect for those who do it well.

    To pull off organic rhyme for an entire novel is impressive, I have to check this book out, thanks for sharing.

    As a reader, I mostly get my rhyming fix from picture books and some poetry, and I know not all great poetry rhymes, but like the Suess example given in the post above, we most often are exposed to poetry as kids through rhyme, or songs with rhyme as their hook.

    Everything from Gilbert and Sullivan show tunes to rap use some kind of rhyme scheme. That's a large part of why rhyme sticks in our heads, even if it's not "perfect" (LOL)

    I agree well done rhyme should always have a place in books in general, but I'm glad that other poetic forms, like haikus, ballads and sonnets are becoming more popular. There are many engaging ways to inject poetry in our writing without having to rhyme, and writers should explore those avenues, too. Ellen Hopkins writes a lot of her novels in verse, and while it may rhyme occasionally, it's not mutally exclusive.

    I also love books like "The Blues of Flats Brown" by the late Walter Dean Myers (illus. by Nina Laden) (which I reviewed on T.A.A. recently) that use lyrical meter in prose that's just as engaging as straight rhyme.

    To be continued...

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    2. I think it's just as important for readers and writers to know there are other poetic forms besides rhyme that can be an enriching reading experience.

      That said, I also recommend checking out "The Snatchabook" by Helen and Thomas Docherty. This husband-wife team blew me away when I read and reviewed it for T.A.A. back in 2013, if any book this decade rivals Seuss, it's this one, and I don't say that lightly.

      This book both looks and reads the part, but it's not a cheap knockoff, it has the candor and spirit of while still being it's own thing, and I think they're the biggest breath of fresh air in terms of writer-illustrator teams since Julia Dondaldson and Axel Schaffer gave us "The Gruffalo" and many other fine books

      It's also one of those rare picture books that older kids would still enjoy as much as preschoolers.

      For our "Mayhemers" in the U.K., I also reccommend their newest collaboration "Abracazebra" which sadly isn't yet available in the U.S.

      I was able to review it when the author, Helen, connected with me on Twitter and she and Thomas were kind enough to send me a signed copy, I would've , but this let me review and recommend it far sooner, and as authors know, the early life of a book is so fragile, any legit support yu can get counts!

      When/if the book comes statesdie, I'm honored to be one of the first Americans that reviewed it.
      I even made one of my fan trailers to help spread the word.

      I usually review books that are fairly aviable worldwide, but I want "Talking Animal Addicts" to be as global a brand as possible, and that often means highlight books that while not yet widely aviable, they're worth the extra effort to get.

      Plus, a lot of my favorite authors (and my readership) is in the U.K., so it makes sense from that perspective, too.

      I know this is an MG focused blog, but for those of you with kids under 8, I also recommend-

      "The Highway Rat" by Julia Donaldson (illus. Axel Schaffer)
      This book got lost in the shuffle between Superworm and The Scarecrow Wedding, but I hope more readers check this one out, a wonderfully wicked rhyming tale with a bad guy you love to hate. I'll be reviewing this on T.A.A. soon.

      "Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam" by Tracey Coderoy (illus. Steven Lenton) this book uses a more forgiving rhyme structure whrere it's not dependent on a rhyme every line, and it plays out like a really gripping short film. I'm so happy it's getting a sequel this summer!

      You can check out my fan trailer of the first book here:

      Great post topic today, James, especially with April being "National Poetry Month." Take care.

      Taurean W.

    3. Thank you so much all the invaluable input, Taurean!
      James Mihaley

  2. You are right, James. There seems to be an aversion to rhyme in all forms. Maybe because it is so hard to do well? I hope for a renaissance too. Although I do not (cannot?) write in rhyme, I do like to read it to my kids.


Thanks for adding to the mayhem!