BEASTLY VERSE by Joohee Yoon


edited by ; illustrated by
Age Range: 4 - 10
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Using just three impossibly bright colors, printmaker Yoon illustrates a collection of animal-themed poems of varying familiarity.

There’s a nostalgic feel to the collection, as many poems date from the 19th century—William Blake’s “The Tiger,” Christina Rossetti’s “Caterpillar,” and Lewis Carroll’s “The Crocodile” among them—and none dates later than the mid-20th century. For all that they may be old, however, the poems have a real child friendliness, from the light verse of Ogden Nash (“The Eel”) and Hilaire Belloc (“The Yak”) to the weightier stanzas of D.H. Lawrence (“Humming-bird”) and Walter de la Mare (“Dream Song”). If the poetry delights, the prints dazzle. Layering cyan, magenta, and yellow—and eschewing black—Yoon produces crowded, eye-popping images that will draw children’s attention. There’s a studied, childlike crudeness to her stylings, full of scribbly lines and overlap, that yields great energy. Carolyn Wells’ “Happy Hyena,” its bright pink head wildly out of proportion to its body, wears a green jacket and a yellow waistcoat, playing the concertina as it walks through town. The book’s design offers further surprises. A pink telephone jangles imperiously in a seemingly empty room in Laura Richards’ “Eletelephony,” but a gatefold opens to show an enormous teal-and-purple elephant hopelessly entangled in the telephone’s cord.

Gleefully distinctive stylings, fluorescent colors, and beautiful bookmaking should make an eager new audience for these old poems. (Picture book/poetry. 4-10)

Pub Date: April 14th, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-59270-166-7
Page count: 48pp
Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 2015


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