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Friday, April 6, 2012

never tease a weasel, written by Jean Conder Soule and illustrated by George Booth. Random House, 2007. $7.99 ages 5 and up

"You could make a riding habit
For a rabbit if you choose;
Or make a turkey perky
With a pair of high-heeled shoes.
You could make a collie jolly
With a red crocheted cravat;
Or make a possum blossom
In an Easter Sunday hat."

Seems just right for this weekend, doesn't it? Actually this is a book that was first published in 1964 and it is testament to its appeal that it has recently come back into print, with a new illustrator to bring it to full life once more.

It is great fun to share with a young audience and feels like the kind of book that would soon be memorized because of its lilting rhythms, its tongue-twisting language and its humorous appeal.
I had to read it out loud to myself, and then read it again to keep its catchy sense of wordplay going. It begs toe-tapping and hand-clapping.

Weasel teasing is the main message in the book, and the poet repeats her admonition on a number of occasions and with varying text. The message remains the same no matter how often she states it:

"But never tease a weasel,
Not even once or twice.
A weasel will not like it -
And teasing isn't nice!"

There you have it! There are many things that you might do to make members of the animal kingdom happy but teasing is not what you should do to the weasel. It cannot be stated enough times! The refrain is repeated following each set of four rhyming couplets and it isn't until the final page that we are encouraged with what we might do:

"But never tease a weasel.
Now remember what I've said!
It's more fun to please a weasel,
And be friends with him instead."

George Booth plies his artistic trade with humor and entertaining expression. The view from behind as the turkey waddles away in six inch heels is priceless. The Easter Bonnet that literally engulfs the poor possum recipient begs a place in the Easter parade...where it would be hard pressed to make it more than a few wobbly steps. The raucous children are bent on wreaking havoc on the weasel who so obviously does not appreciate the fun they seem to be enjoying at his expense. The artist fills each page with detail and delight. The final image is touching. It is one of those books where text and artwork make for a book that will keep the reader's attention and beg repeated readings.

It's a wonderful addition to my poetry shelves and the perfect way to celebrate National Poetry Month!

1 comment:

  1. A swashbuckler of a bow to you, Sal, for featuring my Edgar Allan Poe's Pie
    today. I'm most grateful.
    Best, Pat
    J. Patrick Lewis