cover image Imagine That! Poems of Never-Was

Imagine That! Poems of Never-Was

Jack Prelutsky. Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, $18 (48pp) ISBN 978-0-679-88206-0

Move over, unicorn, dodo and bigfoot--here comes a circusful of imaginary creatures showing off their tricks. Playing ringleader, Prelutsky (A Pizza the Size of the Sun) assembles some 50 poems--giddy, sly, slightly shivery or just plain silly. Lewis Carroll's ""Jabberwocky"" is the only obvious selection; there are inspired entries from John Ciardi, Dr. Seuss, Conrad Aiken and others of high rank, and equally arresting selections from less exalted names. Florence Parry Heide eavesdrops on monster mothers bragging about their babies ("" `Mine is ugly.'/ `Mine is mean.'/ `Mine is turning/ Nice and green' ""); Colin West describes an Ogglewop (""And though he looks quite passive,/ He's crammed with boys and girls inside,/ --That's why he is so massive!""). The sheer brio of the language is sure to amuse, and Prelutsky coaxes still more pleasure with his clever pairings and the volume's smooth flow. Equal credit goes to Hawkes (My Little Sister Ate One Hare), whose full-spread gouaches testify to an apparently tireless imagination in visualizing the various chimeras, monsters, etc. His creatures look invitingly madcap, just a tad menacing but mostly full of fun--creatures almost guaranteed to raise readers' spirits to full throttle. Ages 5-8. (Aug.)