The Children’s Poet Laureate takes a tongue-in-cheek look at some of the weird and wacky holidays that never quite make it onto commercially printed calendars.
The vast majority of the holidays here celebrate animals: from turtles, pigs and worms to pink flamingos, skunks and sloths, among others. While many of the above may not seem celebration-worthy, a few holidays are even stranger: International Cephalopod Awareness Day (Oct. 8) and two that many will instantly add to their personal calendars: Yell “Fudge” at the Cobras in North America Day (Jun. 2) and Chocolate-Covered Anything Day (Dec. 16). But while the subject matter is certainly fascinating and amusing, the poetry can be uneven, though the riffs on English spellings shine, and the wordplay is consistently clever, especially in “Eight Table Manners for Dragons.” But there is also an element of grimness and edginess—“Play with your food, but don’t let it run around screaming.” Raff’s heavily anthropomorphized watercolor critters here include one rat with tail aflame and another pinned to the floor between the tines of a fork. Limerick Day’s five poems are equally weak, while Frog Jumping Day’s verse has nowhere near the creativity and sheer reading pleasure of the similar “Puddle Paddle Battle” from Dr. Seuss’ Fox in Socks. And parents who don’t want to explain might want to skip Mule Day’s poem, “Jack A.”
Though it’s bumpy, it’s still a novel way to add some zany celebrations to the family or classroom calendar. (Poetry. 5-8)