cover image Mammalabilia


Douglas Florian. Harcourt Children's Books, $17 (48pp) ISBN 978-0-15-202167-2

Like Florian's Insectlopedia, this collection of 21 short light verse brims with whimsy and fun. He plays with the double A in aardvark (""Aardvarks look better/ By faar in the daark"") and the growling R in an ode to the tiger. In ""The Bactrian Camel"" the entire text of the poem forms the shape of a camel's back: ""Mr. Bactrian, a question for you--about your back: one lump or two?"" Many of the entries are one-liners--""Some people wear fur coats of lynx./ I/ think/ that/ stynx."" More developed verse recalls Ogden Nash (""I state more emphatic:/ An otter's aquatic""). Florian's humor is eccentric, but just right for his target audience. The gouache illustrations painted on primed brown paper bags, full of unusual textures and inventive designs, match the creativity of the word play. The otter lounges in a claw-foot bathtub reading a book titled H2O. Florian specializes in the unexpected. For instance, the rhebok stands in its tennis shoes because its ""main/ Claim to fame/ Is its name."" The artwork taps into childlike qualities without being simplistic; the animal portraits are clever yet appropriate. An irresistible homage to mammal memorabilia. Ages 5-10. (Mar.)