cover image Cornflakes: Poems

Cornflakes: Poems

James Stevenson. Greenwillow Books, $16.99 (56pp) ISBN 978-0-688-16718-9

Following Popcorn, Sweet Corn and Candy Corn comes another collection of poems with snap, crackle and plenty of pop appeal. Stevenson once again disarms readers with his choice of subjects, his offhand ink-and-watercolor art and his wryly comic verse offering sharp new takes on objects or actions so familiar that they usually escape notice altogether. The opener, for example, ""The Ascent at the Diner,"" pictures a cheeseburger on a paper plate, its bun secured with a frilly toothpick; the text imagines that ""Somebody small and brave"" has scaled the cheeseburger ""And on the summit proudly stuck/ The small blue flag of Cellophane."" Nothing is too lowly to be invested with charm: ""My wastebasket/ Says yes to everything./ Not bad! Quite good! / Oh, excellent! / Are you sure/ You don't want that back?"" Even apparent throwaway remarks make readers stop and think, as in the two-page two-liner ""The Basket Man"": ""Every day the basket man puts all his baskets out./ Every night the basket man puts all his baskets in."" The left page depicts a storefront festooned with baskets; the right page shows the bare storefront after hours--the ""basket man"" is notable for his absence in the art, prompting a quiet revelation about the power of the imagination (the author's as well as the audience's) to people a scene. Crammed with surprises and happy bursts of recognition, this volume will invigorate kids' abilities to observe and enjoy the world around them. Ages 8-up. (Mar.)