UP VERSES DOWN by Calef Brown


Poems, Paintings, and Serious Nonsense
by ; illustrated by
Age Range: 5 - 10
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Fifty-odd (with and without the hyphen) new poems from a nabob of nonsense, with appropriate artplay to go with the wordplay.

“NASA has a bakery. / A spaceship in disguise. / Everybody talks about its meteoric ryes.” In between an “Intro” and an “Outro” promoting the notion that nonsense is serious business and offering pointers for readers eager to get started creating their own, Brown arranges examples cast in a variety of meters and rhyme schemes. The tone varies too, as along with clever own-sake exercises in language and lexicography (from “Borscht”: “This poem is the worscht. / The rhymes are forscht”) are verses on family ties and friendships, a “New Technique” for getting to sleep when sheep-counting palls, fretting over “Stingy” behavior, and ruminations on dust “Motes” passing in and out of sunbeams. The last is delivered by a woman in hijab, and throughout the naively stylized illustrations, human figures are likewise cast with an evident eye to diversity—even if bodies are sometimes those of insects and skin comes in gray or green as well as more likely hues. Birds surrounding the title poem carry banners welcoming all poetry readers and writers in inclusive terms: “Not ‘of a feather’ / But we flock together / Forever united / All are invited!”

Readers who take silliness seriously are well-advised to “sit back and sample this humble compendium. / Begin in the middle or go back from the endium.” (Picture book/poetry. 5-10)

Pub Date: June 18th, 2019
ISBN: 978-0-8050-9929-4
Page count: 80pp
Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2019


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