A collection of six illustrated poems by teacher and musician Combs.
The book transforms common childhood experiences and life lessons into whimsical adventures. “The Bear Next to Me” restores order to a frightened young girl who is surprised in the night by what she thinks is a bear. “Where the Tooth Bumps Go” explains the texture of newly cut adult teeth (“The tooth fairy’s partner / has a degree / In the fine art / of Bumpology”) and also shows what a pickle has in common with a brown toad. Combs offers a few twists when she champions the kids who don’t think the great outdoors are so great in “Not Everyone Likes To Go To Camp” and addresses “The Problem with Giants” for young feminists who would like to see more lady giants in stories. In constructing her poetry, Combs puts her master’s degree in music performance to good use. With a galloping rhythm that’s reminiscent of “Paul Revere’s Ride,” the poetry practically sings. “What’s a Diddle?” is light on its feet in pursuit of mysterious pranksters: “If checkers / are jumping / and game boards / are thumping, / You / might / shoo / rude diddles outdoors!” The illustrations combine brush, pen, ink, colored pencil and graphite in a style that could be tacked to a board in an elementary school classroom. Largely black and white, the occasional splash of color added to the illustrations gives the pictures an unfinished look, like a neglected coloring book, most noticeably in “Not Everyone Likes to Go to Camp.” The gadgets and flying machines in “What’s a Diddle?” are nicely detailed, as are the giants in “The Problem with Giants.” The best illustrations feature a silly crocodile named “Crocodilly” who poses for photos in a variety of costumes and exotic locations where the pictures push the narrative beyond the text.
The poetry shines in this collection that’s both imaginative and fun to read aloud.