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Oh, What Nonsense! poems selected by William Cole, illustrated by Tomi Ungerer.

Published by The Viking Press in the late 1960s.

Includes poems by Shel Silverstein, Spike Milligan, John Ciardi, Jack Prelutsky, David McCord, Wilma Horsburgh, Laura E. Richards, William Jay Smith, Ian Serraillier, and many more.

Hardcover with no dust jacket.


80 pages / 6.9 x 9.25 x .5 inches / 17.5 x 23.5 x 1.4 centimeters


Please see the images above for an accurate representation of what the book looks like, but...

An ex-library book, so all the trappings of that. Sticker on the spine. The cover is worn and has some discoloration. Stamps and writing on front endpapers.

Some of the pages are smudged a little bit or have slight creases (a few have very small tears) or small markings, but they're all still tightly attached to the spine.

Two stamps on back endpapers, plus a sign-out card / pouch.


Imagine a hippopotamus with soft blue eyes! Or a barefoot boy with shoes on! Or an antelope eating a cantaloupe! Oh, what nonsense! Such things just don't happen.

And what a pity it is that they don't. But at least people write about such silly things; that's something to be thankful for. The word "nonsense," of course, means "no sense"--and that is exactly what all these poems have--no sense. Just as people who have no sense are usually quite happy, these no-sense poems are happy. They are like jumps of joy--imagine someone walking quietly along, and suddenly he feels like jumping up in the air and doing a little dance. They're expressions of joy; little dances danced for no reason except for the fun of it.

There are other words for nonsense, and some of them almost make you laugh just hearing them: shenanigans, twiddle-twaddle, fiddle-faddle, monkeyshines, balderdash, bushwa, doggerel, pop-pycock, and flapdoodle. Some of these are very old words, for people were making up nonsense in rhyme centuries back; in fact, much of Mother Goose is sheer nonsense. Some of the poems in this book are jump-rope rhymes and counting-out rhymes made up by children; others are words to sing. We don't know who wrote some of the poems; the authors didn't sign their names, or else the poems weren't written down, but passed by memory from person to person. When we don't know who wrote something, we say it is "anonymous," which is a Greek word meaning "nameless." So remember:

Don't miss your chance for wealth and fame;
When you write something funny, sign your name.

Now someone who is a moldy fig, or a wet smack, or a noodle-head, is sure to say about this book: "Oh, what nonsense! Here's a book of nonsense poems with no poems in it by Edward Lear or Lewis Carroll!" And they're right, but these two great nonsense poets are left out on purpose; they can be found in hundreds of other books--and I hope you will look for them in other books--but mostly they're left out because I wanted to use my space for things you can't find anywhere else. So if anyone says to you, "Oh, what nonsense! No Lear or Carroll!" you tell them for me: "Fiddle-faddle! Twiddle-twaddle! Bushwa! And balderdash!"

Oh, What Nonsense poems selected by William Cole, illustrated by Tomi Ungerer


  • Vintage item from the 1960s
  • Material: book
  • Only ships within United States.
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