cover image The Kitchen Talks

The Kitchen Talks

Shirley Mozelle. Henry Holt & Company, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-7143-6

Despite an occasional delicious pun, the poems included in Mozelle's (The Pig Is in the Pantry, the Cat Is on the Shelf) culinary collection seem a tad undercooked. An introductory ""Up-Close Personal Interview"" with the kitchen itself about the activities found in its environs introduces some of the sounds to come in the other 19 poems about kitchen appliances and gadgets. While some poems focus on noises-""Bubble/ Boil/ Crackle/ Fry"" (for ""Stove"")-most are not stylistically or thematically linked. Often, they consist of a single statement: ""Jack-in-the-box/ For bread/ Includes a tan"" (describes ""Toaster""). Some include a single (if often familiar) pun: ""Chop-chop,/ Slice,/ Dice,/ Onion, lettuce cut up"" (""Cutting Board""). A rhythm set up in one line frequently disappears in another, so that the verses sometimes read more like a thesaurus selection than a constructed whole: ""I have my sizzles,/ .../ My swooshes and swishes,/ Hums, rings, and buzzes,/ Klunks, thumps,/ Whistles and tickles and whirls."" Fortunately, Mathers's (the Lottie's World series) watercolors supply the collection's action and character. Lettuce and onion appear to be dueling with tiny swords, and a fish in the freezer juggles popsicles. The decorative cow and cat figures on the porcelain sugar bowl and creamer escape and readers will find them cavorting on several additional pages. Two oven mitts steal away in a boat and ride the cloudy steam rising from the teapot. Ages 4-8.