cover image Soup for Breakfast

Soup for Breakfast

Calef Brown, . . Houghton Mifflin, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-618-91641-2

Brown's (Dutch Sneakers and Flea Keepers ) fun-filled poems feature an unpredictable range of topics and imagery. The poet-illustrator toys with pronunciation in his “Tongue Tester” (“Stealthy thieves/ in knit wool caps/ collect antiques/ in thick cloth sacks”) and, again, in “The Egret,” the mock-doleful tale of a man who “told a secret/ to an egret,” and “got a talking-to/ from the cockatoo,/ and the cuckoo too.” He offsets each poem with one of his flat, idiosyncratic paintings; with their oddball beasts and improbable color combinations, his pictures are somewhere between surreal and folk art. For the title poem (“I'm not a fan/ of toast and jam... / or even Cream of Wheat./ A bowl of cream of broccoli , / now there's a morning treat”), Brown depicts a fellow with lavender skin smiling crookedly at pea-green broth, while someone else brandishes an ordinary takeout coffee cup. In “Painting on Toast,” an artist places some bread on an easel and composes a scene using dollops of jam and cream cheese. A smorgasbord of punditry and weirdness, this collection will remind kids that poetry and pictures can exist just for kicks. Ages 4–8. (Nov.)