The Proper Way to Meet a Hedgehog


The Proper Way to Meet a Hedgehog and Other How- To Poems is a confident selection of poetry. There is advice as to how to play table tennis from Marjorie Maddox, ‘It’s all in the spin/ and the blur of the ball,/ know how, know when;/ that’s all./ Karla Kuskin suggests in ‘Rules’– ‘Do not jump on ancient uncles./ Do not yell at average mice./ Do not wear a broom to breakfast./ Do not ask snake’s advice.-‘ Robert Louis Stevenson asks. ‘How do you like to go spin a swing, Up in the air so blue?‘ in ‘The Swing’.

The poetry styles are diverse, while the selection is tight and assured. There are poems from modern and classic poets. These are arranged seasonally. Furthermore they encompass all avenues of life, from the natural, the magical to the functional, i.e., from snow angels, goblins, or to how ‘To Make a Meal’.

The pages are beautiful to the touch, while the illustrations offer an Ezra Jack Keats’ sense of colour richness and nostalgia. ‘The Proper Way to Meet a Hedgehog and Other How-To Poems’ is a stunning book, one to read, share and keep.


The Proper Way to Meet a Hedgehog and Other How-To Poems

selected by Paul B. Janeczko, illustrated by Richard Jones

(Walker Books)

The Proper Way to Meet a Hedgehog  is to ‘show you mean no harm‘. You and the hedgehog should consider, ‘I’ll leave you be if you leave me be’. However, when you toast a marshmallow, the operation ‘hinges on a second, an inch./ A shade too long, a hair too close, and…’ Should you walk on Mars, you’re advised to ‘Bounce in your boots- / Trust your equipment./, listen to Mission Control.’
However, what if you’re a tree in winter? Perhaps you could ‘step out of hiding’, and ‘etch your/ message/ in calligraphy/ across a parchment/ sky.’ Or maybe you’re tired of you hair? It seems like you could choose to ‘hang ‘it from a chandelier/ wrap it round a fishing pier’./- Comb it with a garden rake; Mix it in a chocolate cake.-‘ 
Sound and whimsical advice is offered through this assured, collectible selection. The range of poets, poetry styles and devices is outstanding. Furthermore, this is a fascinating selection. It seems to draw the reader in to linger though the poems. While some stir memories and reflection, others make us laugh and imagine. Thereafter, the quality of paper, binding and finally, illustration, are beautiful. This is a gift book, one to treasure. While it reminds me of the series including A First Book of Nature there’s a superiority of observation as evident in Dark Sky Park. The Proper Way to Meet a Hedgehog and Other How-To Poems is a poetry collection to treasure.


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