cover image The Table and the Chair: A Poem

The Table and the Chair: A Poem

Edward Lear. HarperCollins Publishers, $15 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-06-020804-2

The perambulating parlor pieces of Lear's 19th-century poem have been reupholstered into a thoroughly modern, red-striped duo. Powers, in his debut, parades the waggish (and amazingly limber) furniture across a frequently skewed, Crayola-bright landscape, past goggle-eyed creatures both familiar and foreign. His antic, cartoony illustrations employ a lively mixture of crayon, acrylics, scratchboard and--in the eyes of Ducky Quack, paid ``to see them safely back''--photo collage to achieve their stylish zaniness. To compensate for occasionally uneven pacing--some illustrations accompany an entire stanza, others a few words--the poem is reproduced in full at the end of the book. While Lear's inventive nonsense serves as an ideal introduction to the magic of poetry, some may find that this edition goes over the top, transforming silliness into burlesque. Ages 4-8. (Feb.)