Serious poetic fun.
Dark humor abounds in Old 97’s singer/songwriter Miller’s first foray into light verse for children, where his zany poetic antics are deftly paired with the visually arresting mixed-media somersaults of Caldecott medalist Santat. Doubtless drawing on experiences from his day jobs as a rocker and father, Miller offers nearly two dozen rhymed “silly, subversive poems” aimed at capturing children at their scheming best and adults as less than perfect. The collection’s opening poem, describing the young speaker’s hidden talent for using a toe to flush the toilet, sets the irreverent tone: “I don’t have a name for my potty karate / I might call it Tae Kwon Doo / Or maybe I’ll say I’m a third degree black belt / In the top secret art of Kung Poo.” Later, in “i want a dog,” Santat employs full use of the double-page spread by depicting the speaker making her case (“I want a dog / I’ll give you until my next birthday / If there’s no dog by then I am RUNNING AWAY/ I’ll go off and live in a bog”) with the hilarious aid of a 55-slide presentation. Every facial expression displays his exceptional talent at visual characterization.
Whether describing a nighttime trip to the bathroom or discouraging fratricide, Miller and Santat’s fun, eminently contemporary collaboration will charm both kids and the adults reading with them. (Picture book/poetry. 5-10)