Bad Children and Cautionary Verse

Max's Bad Children and Cautionary Verse is a selection of nonsense verse about naughty, wicked and sometimes really evil children. The Cautionary Verse element of the title suggests that there is salutary element, perhaps even a moral dimension to the poems, but this being nonsense verse you sometimes have to search quite hard to find it.

Horace McDougal's A Horrible Child

Horace is sent to jail for killing his mother, but after escaping from prison with a little assistance from Lill, the couple elope together. If you're expecting a happy ending, you haven't quite got the hang of Cautionary Verse yet.

Poem Title

The Bad Boy, Horace McDougal

Author

Style

Cautionary Verse for Kids

Age Range

8-14

Key Stage

KS2, KS3

Length

26 lines

The Bad Boy, Horace McDougal

Horace McDougal was a terrible boy,
Who broke his little brother’s toy,
He teased the dog and taunted the cat,
And they say he even roasted a rat!

But on Monday last he started a fight,
That gave his mother a terrible fright,
And she fell down dead on the sitting room floor,
While Horace shouted, More, more, more!

And the doctor came to Horace’s house,
And said, Where is that nasty, nasty louse,
Who’s killed his mother stone cold dead,
With fear in her heart and dread in her head?

And Horace stood up and cried, I’m here!
I admit it all, I have no fear,
And the villagers carried him off to jail,
And judge set a million pounds for bail.

And everybody cried for joy,
At last we’re rid of that tiresome boy,
But a lass named Lill sent Horace a file,
And our lad was out in a little while.

And Horace and Lill ran off together,
To a place that promised sunny weather,
But legend says that it didn’t go well,
And a priest was tolling a funeral bell,
For poor dead Lill, they sounded the bugle,
While everyone searched for Horace McDougal.

Amanda, A Girl Who's Mad About Cleaning

An unusual tale of a girl who has such a passion for cleaning she finally drives all her family completely round the bend.

Poem Title

Amanda Spick and Span

Author

Style

Cautionary Verse for Kids

Age Range

6-14

Key Stage

KS1, KS2, KS3

Length

12 lines

Amanda Spick and Span

Amanda polished Granny’s corsets, shone up Daddy’s tie,
Vacuumed out her Mum’s best shortbread and pork and cranberry pie.
Polished up the family poodle till he shone like gold,
Bleached the goldfish, ironed the budgie, like she had been told.

What’s with all the manic cleaning, Mother did enquire,
It’s all in the Daughter’s Manual, it’s my heart’s desire.
Daughters keep a family homestead clean and spick and span,
Polish pans and launder curtains, white but never wan.

Father begged and Grandma pleaded, enough, my girl, already,
Stoop the bloomin’ awful cleaning, you’re driving us unsteady.
But Mandy went and got the Brasso, polished all the lamps,
So they took her to the pawn shop and traded her for stamps.

Meet The Goat Boy

How does one cure a boy who believes that he's a goat and behaves like one as well? Just for once, it appears that mother doesn't know best.

Poem Title

The Goat Boy

Author

Style

Cautionary Verse for Kids

Age Range

7-14

Key Stage

KS2, KS3

Length

24 lines

The Goat Boy

Joseph was a tiresome boy
Who ate a small metallic toy,
And told his Mum he was a goat
While munching on her overcoat.

His mother said, "Look here, me lad,
This goat behaviour’s really bad,
Stop chewing on my hem right now
Or else you'll get a frightful row!"

Joseph swallowed six toy guns
And got a nasty dose of runs
All upon his mother's rug,
He was a quite ill-mannered lug.

His mother then her power did wield,
"As you're a goat, live in that field,
And feed upon the grass and thistles
And sleep upon a bed of bristles".

And so she sent him in the rain
And would not let him home again
Until he promised to be good,
And, cold and wet, he said he would.

But when her back was turned some days
He reverted to his former ways,
And nibbled at the table cloth,
He was a true ill-mannered sloth!

Find Out What Peedie Angus Does With The Soup Bowl

I must confess that when I first read the title of this poems, the phrase Peedie Angus and the Soup Bowl made me think it might be a very unpleasant poem indeed. Instead it's a simple tale of a very brattish, tiresome child who misbehaves outrageously in a restaurant. Until, that is, a fellow diner extracts a most fitting revenge.

Poem Title

The Awful Story of Peedie Angus and the Soup Bowl

Author

Style

Cautionary Verse for Kids

Age Range

7-14

Key Stage

KS2, KS3

Length

24 lines

The Awful Story of Peedie Angus and the Soup Bowl

I was sitting rather quietly in the Mustard Seed one day,
When a mother and her off-spring claimed a table down my way,
And clambered, a tad eagerly, to scan the bill of fare,
So each ghastly child could visualise the dishes listed there.

But at last they made their choices and the board was spread with food,
They set to work with fork and spoon declaring "This is good!"
Except the smallest urchin, Peedie Angus was his name,
Who wouldn't eat his bowl of soup and wailed loudly to his dame:

"I cannot sup this watery broth, it really tastes quite vile,
My bread rolls are the awful-ist shape, and the butter tastes like bile".
In vain his mother offered solace, but the child just wailed the louder,
While the waitress proffered tasty bites from jelly to clam-chowder.

But nothing could the irksome brat appease or quell the din,
And each suggestion met with howls and tant-er-ums quite grim.
His mother begged, the waitress bribed, his siblings tore their hair,
But nothing would the howling lad placate or silence there.

Until an angry diner, who’d plugged his ears with bread,
Wrench'd up the urchin’s soup plate and up-turned it o'er his head.
The mother gasped, the sisters stared, the waitress ran for cover,
But every other lunch-partaker embracéd one another,
And with a cheer they did proclaim, in accents strong and fine,
"Three cheers for direct action, it triumphs every time!"

The Lobster Boy

I've included The Story of Lobster Boy with the cautionary verse, but in many ways its a pure nonsense poem with a slightly ambiguous cautionary message. It's about a boy who every evening after tea disappears to the bottom of the ocean, put on his lobster claws and gets into fights. So far, so strange, but the problem is his mother objects to his lobsterish behaviour.

Poem Title

The Story of Lobster Boy

Author

Style

Cautionary Verse for Kids

Age Range

5-14

Key Stage

KS1, KS2, KS3

Length

32 lines

The Story of Lobster Boy

Down at the bottom of the deep blue sea
There lived a small boy called Eustace McPhee,
And what, you may wonder, was he doing down there,
Instead of his homework in his cupboard ‘neath the stair?

Well Eustace, you see, was a strange little mobster,
For he honestly thought that he was a lobster,
And every night at six o’clock, once he’d had his tea,
He went down to the lobster beds at the bottom of the sea.

It ran his mother ragged and infuriated Uncle Dave,
And it even drove his granny to a very early grave,
But on the dot of six o’clock, every weekday night,
Eustace put his claws on, and had a lobster fight.

The lobster boy puts on his claws

And lobsters came from Benidorm and Naples and Bombay,
And every one of them believed our boy had had his glory day,
But Eustace saw them vanquished and sent them smartly home
Once he’d taken their pictures, on his Apple mobile phone.

One night his mother, Gertrude, said, Enough, my bonny lad,
These lobster brawls must cease tonight or I’ll have to tell your dad.
Go and fight your final fight and then go there no more,
And settle down to your career at the Morecambe Co-op store.

The lobster boy's mother says enough

So Eustace went to meet his foe, a Russian known as Boris,
Who had been known to quote the Greeks and very occasionally Horace,
He snapped his sharp old lobster claws and threw down his fur hat,
But Eustace clipped him with a claw, and that, my dears, was that.

The lobsters cheered, then shed a tear, when he told them he must go,
And all as one they said to him, Don’t leave our little show,
Don’t go back to that homework world of Marmite spread on toast,
And scratchy knitted pullovers and fatty Sunday roast.

So Eustace sent a telegram to the folks he’d left behind,
I’ve found my people in the sea, I don’t mean to be unkind,
Please say farewell to all at school, and have my homework jotter,
I’m staying in the deep blue sea, even though I shouldn’t oughter!

Arthur The Omnivore

A poem about Arthur, a young boy who ate everything and anything, until the inevitable happened.

Poem Title

Hungry Arthur

Author

Style

Cautionary Verse for Kids

Age Range

6-14

Key Stage

KS1, KS2, KS3

Length

14 lines

Hungry Arthur

Arthur ate a toffee apple at the county show,
And a hot dog and a doughnut and two pounds of roe,
Some gingerbread and half a burger, and an ogo-pogo roll,
Fourteen hay bales, three new tractors, and a bag of smokeless coal.

His mother said, enough, me lad, cease this endless snacking,
Go and play computer games or learn the art of hacking,
But Arthur shrugged his podgy shoulders, ate a lobster pie,
And said, I’m happy in the tuck tent, Mum, I cannot tell a lie.

He ordered up a brace of pheasants and a whole roast boar,
Ate them up with bread and butter, called out more, more, more.
Ate a shark and ate a dolphin, ate a hump-backed whale,
Quaffed a Coke and downed a Pepsi and a mug of ale.

Tried to eat a rocky island, but ate a mountain first,
Had another, called for seconds, when suddenly he burst.

What Fate Awaits Skinny Vinnie?

Skinny Vinnie is a boy who eats lots of fattening food, but stays as thin as a rake. While in most cases being thin would be a virtue, it proves to be Vinnie's undoing.

Poem Title

The Hunger

Author

Style

Cautionary Verse for Kids

Age Range

5-14

Key Stage

KS1, KS2, KS3

Length

10 lines

Skinny Vinnie

Skinny Vinnie was a boy who ate a lot of cake,
But no matter how much cake he ate he was thin as a rake,
He ate a stack of best cream buns and a slab of ginger bread,
But even after half a ton he still looked walking dead.

He swallowed down a brace of sponge as though it was a race,
But at the beach that very day had sand kicked in his face,
He said I must be surely cursed to be so small and weedy,
When I do eat so very much that people think I’m greedy.

Alas that day he met his end, whilst he, himself, was hating,
When munching on a big Choux Bun he tumbled down a grating.

The Hunger

Another poem on the theme of gluttony, although The Hungeris rather unpleasant. It's about a man, Geoffrey-Geoffrey Dinglyby-Smythe, who eats his relatives, his neighbours, and a few innocent bystanders.

Poem Title

The Hunger

Author

Style

Cautionary Verse for Kids

Age Range

9-14

Key Stage

KS2, KS3

Length

18 lines

The Hunger

Geoffrey-Geoffrey Dinglyby-Smythe,
Also known as the glutton of Hythe,
Ate his mother with cheese and chives,
And a dash of honey from her hives.

Polished her off with his morning tea,
Before eating his Dad at ten-past three,
His Aunty Flo he swallowed whole,
After a helping of Dover sole.

But his tummy still rumbled and he called for more,
And he ate the spaniel from next door,
The neighbours yelled so he ate them up,
Then washed them down with some barley cup,

And a nice Chianti and a bottle of pop,
Before eating the woman from the corner shop,
Will I never be full? he sadly cried,
As he choked on a rib and promptly died.
And they buried him out on the deep blue sea,
As he’d eaten the priest for last night’s tea.

The Unfortunate Shoe Boy

The unfortunate Shoe Boy, who was born with a shoe for a head, received less than sympathetic treatment from the medical establishment.

Poem Title

Shoe Boy

Author

Style

Cautionary Verse for Kids

Age Range

7-14

Key Stage

KS2, KS3

Length

16 lines

Shoe Boy

The shoe boy, from Max Scratchmann's nonsense poem of the same name

Anthony Alphonso Antonio Jedd
Was a boy who was born with a shoe for a head,
It wasn’t very pretty in one oh so young,
But at least he had eyelets and a malleable tongue.

He went to the doctor and said with a sigh,
Can you help with this problem or else I will die?
I’m quite antisocial and I dread the warm weather,
When the hot summer sun puts cracks in my leather.

The doctor from The Shoe Boy nonsense poem

The physician he pondered and scratched at his head,
I think, my young fellow, I’ll send you to bed,
There no-one will see you, the problem’s resolved,
Now very good day to you, your worries are solved.

But hang on, said Anthony, that solution is rife,
I can’t stay in bed for my whole blooming life,
True, said the doctor, we must boredom abolish,
I’ll send my old nurse round to give you a polish.

Amelia Jane, More Wicked Than Naughty

Amelie Jane, the eponymous anti-hero of the poem, descends the slippery slope from naughty girl to grannicidal maniac in just five verses. Don't worry, there's lots of fun along the way, so long as you keep reminding yourself that it's all made up.

Poem Title

Naughty Amelia Jane

Author

Style

Cautionary Verse for Kids

Age Range

8-14

Key Stage

KS2, KS3

Length

20 lines

Naughty Amelia Jane

Amelia Jane from Meadow Lane,
Microwaved the cat again,
Put her knickers in the tea,
Filled the kettle with her pee.

Then she stole a lobster pincer,
Put it through the kitchen mincer,
Put a mouse in Grandma’s cheese,
Then sawed her artificial knees.

Grandma fell out in the garden,
Amelia Jane said, Beg your pardon,
Sorry if I kicked you, Granny,
Thought you were the meter mannie!

Grandma said, I’ll fix you, madam,
I’ll cover you in Tar Macadam,
Plus some feathers from the tanners’,
That’ll make you mind your manners.

But Amelia laughed and said,
Only if you keep your head,
Then she shot her on the spot,
Ta ta, Granny, thanks a lot!

Not your cup of tea? Try some normal funny poems instead
Funny Poems and Nonsense Verse for Kids
Funny Poems and Nonsense Verse for Kids
Copyright © Nonsense Poems for Kids / Patrick Winstanley 2002-2015 All Rights Reserved.
Individual poems are copyright Max Scratchmann and used with permission