cover image Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant: And Other Poems

Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant: And Other Poems

Jack Prelutsky, , illus. by Carin Berger. . HarperCollins/Greenwillow, $16.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-06-054317-4

Berger's (Not So True Stories & Unreasonable Rhymes ) inventive, textured collages add up to a visual treat in this first-rate collection of Prelutsky poems. Readers will behold not only the bold umbrellaphant, whose trunk is literally an umbrella, but also more than a dozen other amusing creatures who (similar to the hybrid mythical beasts of Prelutsky's Scranimals ) are a cross between an actual animal and an inanimate object, and exhibit combined traits of both. "The Solitary Spatuloon," its body shaped like a black spatula with wings, cries "Syrup!" plaintively, flipping pancakes with its tail. ("Its tail, we note, is well designed/ With this peculiar task in mind.") Especially clever are "The Tearful Zipperpotamuses," whose bodies are zippers that keep unzipping, "So they worry and they fret/ That their insides will fall outside,/ Though this hasn't happened yet." The clever rhymes do not miss a beat, and Berger's collages brim with both unusual visual humor and irony. She pictures the Clocktopus ("Its tentacles in tempo/ With the clock upon its face") with as many clocks, pocket watches and wristwatches as it has appendages, none of them synchronized; and "The Ballpoint Penguins" swoop like ice skaters on lined pages used for cursive writing exercises—the critters "do little else but write and write./ Although they've nothing much to say,/ They write and write it anyway." Young readers will behold a wonderful, fantastically silly book. Ages 4-up. (Oct.)