A nonsensical illustrated primer on prosody.
One of the most memorable scenes in Lukoff’s madcap picture-book debut, A Storytelling of Ravens, illustrated by Natalie Nelson (2018), involves hippos racing to investigate an “explosion at the cupcake factory.” Here Lukoff reprises this notion of industrial-sized catastrophe, revealing in the author’s note that it was inspired by a college friend’s award-winning intentionally bad poem. This background helps drive the wacky poetic in-jokes adorning this inventive exploration of the mechanics of poetry as the endearing Kilmer Watts finds employment at Amalgamated Verse & Strophe, a thriving factory that ships “everything from odes to epithalamiums to markets across the land.” Kilmer takes quickly to his new vocation, learning how to “operate the meter meter and empty the cliché bins,” though not without the occasional mistake, resulting in some oversyllabified haikus and “several sheets of blank verse” coming out “entirely blank.” Hoffmann’s playfully expressive double-page illustrations feature views of sausage-shaped humans amid wild visions of cogs and wheels. They heighten Lukoff’s guffaws, extending the wordplay; the enjambment machine is cleverly marked with the labels “EN / JAMB / MENT,” for instance. When the forecasted factory disaster comes to pass, Kilmer finds an even better role for poetry and himself in town, providing a glimpse beyond verse’s structure to its meaning. Rich backmatter on poetic structure and a glossary make this a solid reference as well.
Lukoff’s sophisticated silliness hits the sweet spot for lovers of wordplay. (Picture book. 6-9)