cover image Tie Your Socks and Clap Your Feet: Mixed Up Poems

Tie Your Socks and Clap Your Feet: Mixed Up Poems

Lenny Hort. Atheneum Books, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-689-83195-9

While the poems in this outlandish collection are ostensibly about different topics, they all depend on oxymorons. ""Open your eyes and go to sleep,"" urges ""Lullaby"": ""I'll sing you to sleep with soothing screams/ to fill your feet with happy dreams."" Each verse strings together a series of odd juxtapositions, non sequiturs and heavy-handed rhyme on a very thin thread of meaning. Hort's (How Many Stars in the Sky?) pairings often seem capricious rather than artful. In ""Fairy Tale,"" for example, ""The king of New York/ and her nephew, the queen,/ were painting their castle/ with iced gasoline."" Purple oranges and yellow blueberries appear in ""A Pair of Purple Oranges"" and a ""shiny toilet seat/ where Junior always cooks"" is featured in ""Our New House."" The humor is too self-consciously arbitrary to be truly funny, and the images are unusual but formulaic, peculiar without being apt. Kroninger's (If I Crossed the Road) edgy collages amplify the bizarreries with incongruous combinations of magazine photographs and textured cut paper. Thus the queen's hair seems made of green grapes, and a shiny rattlesnake peers with human eyes through 1950s black plastic glasses. Ultimately, the would-be iconoclastic art and text try too hard to be ridiculous. Ages 4-8. (Apr.)