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THE WORLD’S GREATEST by J. Patrick Lewis



by J. Patrick Lewis & illustrated by Keith Graves

Pub Date: April 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-8118-5130-5
Publisher: Chronicle Books

This is not, as a quick glance at the title might suggest, an attempt to anthologize the best poems ever written, thank goodness. It is, instead, a goofy celebration of (mostly) equally zany world records. Thus, readers will enjoy “The Most Plates Spinning,” which typographically sets the ascending count of spinning plates off from those intermediate discs that threaten to fall; “The Tallest Christmas Tree,” which presents them with a star-topped shaped poem; and “The Longest Traffic Jam,” which consists of a string of single-word lines arranged in rhyming couplets. Graves’s bright illustrations provide agreeably silly accompaniment, at their best juxtaposing two separate poems into one double-page whole: A giant curve of a wave (“The Longest Time a Message Was in a Bottle at Sea”) threatens to overwhelm a roller coaster so high its apex peaks above the page (“The Tallest Roller Coaster”). Not all the spreads equal this level of cleverness, and it’s overall a pretty slim premise, but it’s not a bad way for kids to spend an afternoon—and it might send them to Guinness to think up their own. (Poetry. 6-10)