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ONCE UPON A TOMB by J. Patrick Lewis Kirkus Star


Gravely Humorous Verses

by J. Patrick Lewis & illustrated by Simon Bartram

Age Range: 6 - 10

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2006
ISBN: 0-7636-1837-3
Publisher: Candlewick

Lewis is “dead-on” with this collection of “gravely humorous verses.” From school principal to bully, food critic to school cafeteria lady, underwear salesman to soccer player, these “crypt-ic” rhyming quips about the untimely demise of 22 people are wittily morbid and irreverent. The devilishly deadpan, acrylic paintings raise the dead to a higher humor level, infusing liveliness into the scenes and animating the hearse verse with visual puns. For example, six people clad only in black underwear, socks and shoes stand around a photo of the “Underwear Salesman: Our grief / Was brief.” Clever endpapers of tombstones for each of the deceased carry out the serio-comic style. Some poems are a bit of a stretch, but nevermind, kids will love the grim-reaper humor. The seven lines describing the pointed end of the “BOOK EDITOR” are illustrated with a bespectacled woman entombed in a casket shaped like an exclamation point with an open book lying on top. “Miss Spelling’s / Exclamation points / Were myriad!!! / She lived on / The margin. / And died. / Period.” The end. (Picture book/poetry. 6-10)