Thursday, June 26, 2008

Poetry Friday: Dog Poems by Dave Crawley

Dog Poems by Dave Crawley. Illustrated by Tamara Petrosino. Wordsong, 2007 (978-59078-454-9) $16.95

Twenty-four vignettes in verse makes up this lighthearted collection of love poems to dogs. There's a description of the unbeautiful but loyal and gentle bulldog, showing that beauty is only fur deep, a glimpse of a wolf and hunter beginning to bond in ancient times, and and a story about a pure white puppy named Snowball who unexpectedly develops into a Dalmatian who has to be renamed Dotty. A strong affection for the foibles of dogs shines through the book, culminating in a tender poem about a girl and puppy growing old together:

And as we walk this well-worn path
no longer running free,
I hope I was as good to you
as you have been to me.

I have a limited tolerance for poetic whimsy and any poem called "Snuggle-Wuggle" that uses the phrase "ruzzle-wuzzle" is really pushing it; nonetheless, I like this book. The poems in it are sometimes silly, frequently obvious and unabashedly sentimental, but even after several rereadings during the Cybils nomination process many of them made me smile; reading it again now, they still do. The poetic forms used are familiar, but frequent changes in mood and tempo keep the book from getting that stale feeling common to collections of verse. Even the illustrations, which are on the shallow, cartoony side, work surprisingly well, keeping the mood of the book light and playful. With pictures like these, you don't expect lyric profundity and it's okay that you don't get it. Although I see a fair bit to criticize in Dog Poems, I think many readers will enjoy it for its warmth and easy humor. (4-8)

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review: Trucks Go Pop!

Trucks Go Pop! written and illustrated by Bob Staake. Little, Brown, 2008 (978-0-316-00510-4) $17.99

In the town of Truckopolis, happy trucks are going about their days--delivering milk, picking up recycling... shooting clowns out of cannons. Vibrantly colored pictures and some innovative paper engineering makes this a particularly busy pop-up book; there's plenty of action on every page, often with actual movement, as well as a lot to look at. (Some of it, like a poster advertising "telepathic flesh-boring," quite bizarre.) The 3D of the pop-ups is complemented surprisingly well by a whimsical, flat drawing style that's heavy on odd, bold shapes and contrasting colors. This is mostly a book for looking at: "little truck/big truck/silly truck/dig truck" is half the text right there. Includes a colorful poster of "Truckopolis." (3 & up)

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