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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Hypnotize a Tiger: Poems About Just About Everything, written and illustrated by Calef Brown. Henry Holt and Company, Macmillan. Raincoast, 2015. $20.95 ages 6 and up

Pigeon Frogs

Pigeon frogs!
Pigeon frogs! ...
All day long
they hop and flutter.
Snatching crumbs
and catching flies
with bobbing heads
and bulging eyes."

Can you see yourself asking your students to choose two animals they might combine for their similarities, create a new animal and write a poem about it? Using the above poem might be just the impetus they need to try their hand at that type of writing.

If they wrote with the irreverent humor that Calef Brown employs in his poetry, you would have some wonderful writing to post on your classroom door as an invitation for others to join you. Maybe then you could  also invite them in to share the fun that fills the pages of this new book. There are more than 80 entries and each is full of nonsense and wacky wordplay.

If you have read any of his earlier books, you will be anticipating full concentration and a lot of thinking as kids read and then reread his poetry. They will enjoy the way he plays with words, always creative and oftentimes gross. Little ones will be intrigued by the details of the silly drawings that so cleverly accompany these descriptions of strange animals, people and other creatures. Want poetry that is silly? Here, you have it!

Be sure to check out the footnotes, like the one that ends this poem:

Lou Gnome

Look who came back home
to Hoboken--
it's Lou Gnome!
Like the G in his name,
Lou is silent.
Completely nonviolent.
He doesn't speak,
even when spoken to.
None of the Gnomes in Hoboken do.

Those that are gnome-schooled
are required to recite the Pledge of the Wee-Gents,
sometimes at huge events.

'Gnome-schooled'? Witty is right ...


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