Sprightly, neatly crafted verse about animals. More fey rumination than out-and-out nonsense, these 35 poems are pleasantly seasoned with chuckles derived from both sound and sense: ""A hippopotamusn't yawn/Directly under tightrope walkers. . .The awful things a hippopotamusn't do/ Are just/ As important as the lawful things/ A hippopotamust."" A few gruesome touches (""The Culture of the Vulture"") and irreverent asides (""Jack A."": ""And if, or course, you call him Jack,/Don't mention his last name"") add spice. Chess' wild-eyed, precisely delineated, cheerful animals are the perfect complement; invading the borders of their colorful settings, they are an outstanding feature of the book's handsome, creatively designed format.