cover image MRS. BROWN ON EXHIBIT: And Other Museum Poems

MRS. BROWN ON EXHIBIT: And Other Museum Poems

Susan Katz, , illus. by R. W. Alley. . S&S, $16.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-689-82970-3

Mrs. Brown is "the field trip queen," and that means her lucky students get to visit museums galore, exploring collections ranging from the tried-and-true (dinosaurs, mummies, statues) to the extremes of eccentricity (things that people have swallowed). Katz (Snowdrops for Cousin Ruth) adopts the voices of the schoolchildren themselves to celebrate the outings in 20 poems. The speakers expound in both blank and rhyming forms, in alternately playful and contemplative moods. A statue garden inspires one student to muse, "I think myself forever still./ Like this rearing horse,/ whose hooves/ will never return to earth." The Insectarium brings out a more jovial perspective: "Toe-biter, earwig, and katydid—/ Sheldon's fingers drift toward a lid./ Mrs. Brown has to give him two tugs./ So he won't reach inside and bug the bugs." Whether lyrically crystallizing an observation or reporting on the antics of the class cut-ups, the poems convey the excitement of kids on an adventure. Alley's (the Paddington Bear books) sprightly, realistic watercolors show the children engaged on a wonderful variety of levels—they're mesmerized by alighting butterflies and grossed out by human skulls. As for Mrs. Brown herself, she's a dandy docent, donning a surgeon's scrubs in the medical museum and savoring a lollipop in the free sample room of the candy museum. An endnote lists offbeat museums in every state. Ages 6-10. (July)