The Next Hundred Lears: Limericks after Lear Book Two

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This book is a delight.

Edward Lear, who apparently still holds the title of Father of the Limerick, wrote a lot of them. They are classically quaint, but that last line in every rhyme is a stinker. It’s either a near repeat of the first line or ends with the same last word as the first line. It never adds new ideas or humor to the poem.

Enter John Nichol, who presents one of Lear’s 1872 limericks on each page and follows it with his own take on the poem. Nichol breaks free of the Lear mold and has ended each of his own verses with eight or nine very funny syllables that create a new level of sophistication and humor. This contrast is so obvious after reading the first few poems that I recognized the flaw in Lear’s versions without even reading Nichol’s introduction first.

I wondered, as I read – and laughed – if this modern-day author would include any of our singular current events in his rhymes, and he does. One poem names Covid outright, and not too seriously, but I had run across another limerick earlier in the book that made what I suspected to be an oblique reference, in a different language. (See if you can find it. )

This book would make an excellent resource for family or classroom reading; one limerick per day at the dinner table or during classtime will definitely be a treat for the reader and the listeners of most ages, and Rory Walker’s illustrations will please everyone. I can find no flaws and see no reason to give this very pleasurable book anything less than five stars.

If you love this book (and you will), be sure to check out Nichol’s first volume of limericks as well. You can find links to his work at the end of the book.

I received an Advance Readers Copy of this book to allow me to write an honest review, which was published today on Reedsy Discovery.