In this second Poetry Adventures outing, poet Cleary and illustrator Rowland (If It Rains Pancakes: Haiku and Lantern Poems, 2014) again team up to explore a poetic form well suited for young readers.
A concrete poem, explains Cleary in his introduction to the pint-sized collection, “takes on the shape of whatever it is about,” with the topic “always an object (instead of a feeling or an idea)”; the poem’s “letters, words, or symbols are arranged on the page to form a picture of that object.” More staid attempts at concrete verse tend to rely on standard typefaces and creative spacing to form poems’ shapes, but here, Cleary’s 24 light subjects are aided mightily by Rowland’s intricately detailed hand-lettering and charming illustrations. The laments of a last piece of Halloween candy—“The caramel treats have been enjoyed, the nutty chocolate savored, / but no one wants a candy bar that’s ‘Tuna Salad’ flavored”—are laid out on what looks like a Kit Kat. A globe comprising balloon-shaped letters is positively buoyant: “orange / or blue and / full of helium / floating up / to reach the / ceili-um / string string string string string string.” A pretzel-shaped poem is set in letters that look as if they were drawn in mustard.
Signature silliness from Cleary and Rowland abounds in this children’s celebration of concrete poetry. (Picture book/poetry. 6-10)