cover image RAINBOW SOUP: Adventures in Poetry

RAINBOW SOUP: Adventures in Poetry

Brian P. Cleary, Author, Neal Layton, Illustrator , illus. by Neal Layton. Lerner/Carolrhoda $16.95 (0p) ISBN 978-1-57505-597-8

Full of puns and silly jokes, Cleary here does for poetry what his Words Are Categorical series does for grammar. His light verse is lively and inventive—and often slightly outré. He delights in poking fun, for instance, at a boy who "had a pair of heads,/ And neither was becoming." He invents a "Mixed Marriage" of a chicken and a centipede whose offspring "had enough drumsticks/ To feed any crowd, anywhere." Like his previous books, this one has an educational agenda as well: footnotes accompanying many poems provide literary definitions set in such heavy type that they seem at times more important than the poems themselves. The lines about the two-headed Eric, for instance, present an example of trochaic meter. A footnote helps explain the punch line in a tribute to e.e. cummings's poetry, "Do you get the double meaning of 'lower case' in the last line?" (the line reads, "your books are always on my shelf/ (tucked in my lower case)." Layton's (Jennifer Jones Won't Leave Me Alone ) pen-and-ink and color wash cartoons add humor and a dash of exuberance. He portrays the cat entranced with a computer mouse in "My Cat Bytes" with squared-off, pixel-like edges. The subject of "Five" grins goofily, delighted with his three extra legs ("His pants fit like a glove"). The mocking tone often makes each poem seem like a parody of the poetic form it represents. But overall, the verses are clever and comical, and youngsters who may be intimidated by poetry may well warm up to its playful presentation here. Ages 8-12. (Feb.)