cover image Flamingos on the Roof: Poems and Paintings

Flamingos on the Roof: Poems and Paintings

Calef Brown, . . Houghton, $16 (64pp) ISBN 978-0-618-56298-5

Brown (Polkabats and Octopus Slacks ) angles for the Silverstein or Prelutsky mantle in this collection of zany rhymes and funky folk-boho paintings. "I eat my beans with lots of lard./ (The kind without the pork.)/ But here's the rub—/ this tasty grub/ just slides right off my fork," says one fellow, a monochrome study in stripes and swabs of denim blue, who recommends a ladle for slippery legumes. In a comical family portrait, a smug party girl praises her electrified birthday cake ("Plug it in and make a wish,/ then relax and flip the switch!"), while her offended grandfather dismisses the new-fangled gadget ("To get your wish without a doubt,/ you need to blow some candles out!"). In his holiday-spoofing title piece, children swear they've heard "flamingos on the roof" in December; other rhymes introduce "Allicattor Gatorpillar" and "Medusa's sister Sally," notable for her "single lazy snake" and for petrifying people with small talk. The acrylic paintings of wall-eyed oddballs recall Maira Kalman's naïve portraits or flea-market trophies; in one image, an enigmatically smiling, yellow-slicker-clad girl awaits a treat at "Weatherbee's Diner" where "they cook up a storm" ("The thunder is wonderful, order it loud,/ with sun-dried tornado on top of a cloud"). Brown's volume constitutes an uneven variety show, unified by a hearty salute to eccentricity. Ages 6-12. (Apr.)