cover image The Best Worst Poet Ever

The Best Worst Poet Ever

Lauren Stohler. Atheneum, $17.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-5344-4628-1

Debut author Stohler takes “use your words” to literary, witty extremes via roly-poly Pug and orange, fluffy, and equally rotund frenemy Cat. Stirring the pot on what are clearly long-standing issues between them, the two engage in a poetry face-off. Cat, who is not a little snobby, fussily assembles a quill, an inkstand, and a bust of Shakespeare before hurling all manner of verse at Pug: “Don’t poke the haiku/ this fresh toasty haiku, plump/ with soft little words.” Pug, who has gathered a typewriter, a pizza, and a large bag of cookies, counters with a poetry slam pose and a multi-stanza manifesto: “Can I write a poem with my butt?/ I don’t know!/ Oh can I write a poem with my butt?/ Here I go!” As the versifying escalates, expressively inky digital vignettes grow ever more rambunctious and gravity-defying; the typewritten text follows suit, skipping and swooping around the page. Eventually, poetry works it magic on both characters, who enthusiastically embrace each other, the muse, and all the tools in the meter toolkit, including slanted rhyme, enjambment, and poetic contractions. They’re poets, and boy, do they know it. Ages 4–8. [em]Agent: Thao Le, Sandra Dijkstra Literary. (Aug.) [/em]