cover image Dutch Sneakers and Flea Keepers: 14 More Stories

Dutch Sneakers and Flea Keepers: 14 More Stories

Calef Brown. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-618-05183-0

Brown follows his bestselling Polka Bats and Octopus Slacks with another traveling circus of poems. The table of contents resembles a set of sideshow marquees, letting readers know they are in for offbeat attractions. A prime example is ""Mysterious Fish"": ""Mysterious fish tank./ Mysterious fish./ Green like asparagus./ Flat like a dish./ Toss in a peppercorn,/ then make a wish./ Mysterious fish tank./ Mysterious fish."" This weird and wonderfully catchy chant accompanies an eerie image of a bored, flounder-like creature in a luminous, slightly slimy tank. The boardwalk motif continues in one of the title poems, in which an unseen huckster promises ""Fleakeepers"" that they can ""Make lots of cash!/ Raise fleas in your basement,/ just feed 'em your trash."" Brown's cabinet of oddities also includes the big-eared ""Tattlesnake"" (""It spies on you,/ tells on you,/ then disappears"") and a ""Runaway Waffle"" whose spindly limbs give it a likeness to the retro-icon Mr. Peanut. The author's illustrations suggest a zany mix of post-modern wit and folk art na vet , and his minor-key palette complements the surreal verse. If Jack Prelutsky collaborated with Howard Finster, the result might look something like this. All ages. (Apr.)