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Polkabats and Octopus Slacks
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About the Author

Calef Brown began his career as a tour guide at an early age, when he discovered the simple joy of pointing things out. He is also an artist, writer, and frequently a blue elephant. Mr. Brown's illustrations have appeared in many magazines and newspapers, and his paintings have been exhibited in N.Y., L.A., S.F., and other places without fancy initials, like Osaka and Rome. He lives in Maine.

Reviews

Gr 3-4ÄWhile the title advertises 14 stories, this is actually a collection of poems. The subjects range from a man with octopus legs in bell-bottom pants to skeleton flowers. While some of the poems may entertain upper-elementary children, some of the intended humor will puzzle young readers; for example, the bats have jury duty and the pants fit like apple pie. While the silliness may hold some appeal, the rhythms are forced ("The pockets all have numbers, numbers on the jacket pockets"), making them difficult to read aloud. Many of the quirky illustrations feature animals with human heads or people of unusual colors. This is not a selection for libraries with limited budgets.ÄMarty Abbott Goodman, L.J. Bell Elementary School, Rockingham, NC

HWith ebullient Dixieland/ragtime jazz as accompaniment, Pinkwater, children's book author and radio personality, gleefully performs Brown's 14 hip and funny story-poems. An on-air rave about this book by Pinkwater during his children's book segment on National Public Radio's Weekend Edition Saturday back in 1998 helped put the title on the map (and obviously gave Pinkwater an edge when it came time to cast this audio production). Listeners can't help hearing Pinkwater's clear appreciation of the silly subject matter; at times he seems on the verge of giggling, reading lines like "Funky Snowman loves to dance./ You'd think he wouldn't have much chance/ without two legs/ or even pants.... Kick it, Funky Snowman!" Out-of-the-ordinary images abound, from a "tightrope traffic jam" of circus performers on Highwire 66 to the Bathtub Driver and his three-legged duck and Georgie Spider, pie baker extraordinaire. A great title for National Poetry Month, or any time. Ages 4-8. (Apr.)

"A wacky, postmodern array of characters. . . . Brown's illustrations (are) a perfect choice of style for the poetry's quirky logic. An exuberant debut, equally enjoyable read silently or aloud." --Booklist Booklist, ALA

"The deadpan tone and weird words, worthy of a carnival barker, inject a step-right-up sensibility into the humorous rhymes." --Publishers Weekly Publishers Weekly

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