Monday, January 22, 2007
Flamingos on the Roof
Brown, Calef. 2006. FLAMINGOS ON THE ROOF. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0618562982 [Suggested Grade Levels K-5]
I can’t decide which I enjoy more, Calef Brown’s zany, syncopated story-poems or his crazy, cock-eyed story-paintings that accompany his poetry. In this new collection of “poems and paintings” he invites us into his slightly askew worldview in which cats tango, dogs wear plaid, and people routinely have blue skin or blue hair. And his wordplay and strong rhythms build poems that stand on their own two (three or four) feet. My current favorite has got to be (picture the half caterpillar, half alligator creature in the illustration) “Allicatter Gatorpillar.” Like each of the 29 poems in this collection, it is a delightful poem to read aloud. Along with the colorful illustrations in a weird combination of cartoon and folk art, Brown has created nonsense poems in a variety of forms full of strong sound qualities that children are sure to enjoy.
Calef Brown’s writing has often been compared to the nonsensical narratives of Edward Lear, so one must pull some of Lear’s classic poetry such as The Owl and the Pussycat illustrated by a variety of notable illustrators over the years for comparison.
This coining of a new creature by combining features of two animals, such as “Allicatter Gatorpillar” is sure to inspire children to make their own creatures. Then have the children draw pictures or cut magazine pictures to visualize their crazy animals. They may need help coining a new name by building a new word from two animal names.
Other parallel works by Calef Brown:
POLKABATS AND OCTOPUS SLACKS: 14 STORIES. ISBN 0618111298
DUTCH SNEAKERS AND FLEA KEEPERS: 14 MORE STORIES. ISBN 061805183X
TIPPINTOWN. ISBN 0618149724
By Sylvia M. Vardell