cover image Runaway Opposites

Runaway Opposites

Richard Wilbur. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P, $15 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-15-258722-2

Drescher (The Boy Who Ate Around; Pat the Beastie) pays homage to Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Wilbur's verse and the result is equal parts silliness and wit, with the artist's playful grotesques populating every page. Wilbur's poems range from couplets to multiple stanzas, presenting puzzle-like proofs rather than standard opposites. The opposite of ``doctor,'' he jokes, is ``anyone who makes you sick''; ``hat'' is the reverse of ``shoes/ For shoes and hat together/ Protect our two extremes from weather.'' Drescher assembles his collages on backgrounds of dark, textured paper, and forms the text by hand-lettering or cutting out newsprint, a la B-movie ransom notes. His raw, studiedly imperfect designs include metal trinkets attached with masking tape; canceled postage stamps; cartoon details and borders; and sepia-tone photo portraits, often given feathery arms and beaky noses. One memorable spread contrasts an armadillo with a pillow-the creature walks on four human feet (clad in black pumps), and feathers litter the page: ""`Oh, don't talk nonsense!' you protest. / However, if you tried to rest/ Your head upon the creature, you / Would find that what I say is true.'' Kid-pleasingly silly and Generation X-pleasingly raffish. All ages. (Mar.)