Short poems and accompanying illustrations make up this word-format poetry anthology for little ones.
Thirty-five poems run the gamut from high-spirited wordplay for very young listeners (“Kippy-cuppy / Kippy-cuppy / Cup, cup, cup”) to relatively more complex ideas (“I’m a very, very, very slow train / And I’m very, very late again”). Some poems validate the strong emotions all children feel at some time, such as “I Don’t Want,” “I Am Hungry,” and “I Am Angry,” while others nestle into their private worlds: “You fell off the table / And landed on your head. / I picked you up / And put you to bed,” with the accompanying illustration showing a teddy bear tucked into bed. Riddell’s fluid watercolor-and-pencil illustrations bring a grace to each poem, no matter what its subject, and he depicts many ethnicities of children (in addition to animals and nonscary monsters). The text changes size and color with each page and often within the poem itself, a fine detail in this well-designed book. Some poems are strange (“Why did the man bend down low? / Why did the man eat some snow?”), reflecting the bemusement very small children feel at the doings of adults. The poem titled “Don’t Squash” shows an elephant who’s just stepped on something that may be a jelly doughnut, but the red ooze it splatters may provoke more than a few questions.
Despite (or perhaps because of) the odd bits, this book successfully celebrates the private, gleeful, imaginative world of toddlers. (Picture book/poetry. 1-5)