THE PIG IN THE SPIGOT by Richard Wilbur

THE PIG IN THE SPIGOT

by , illustrated by
Age Range: 7 - 9

KIRKUS REVIEW

Wilbur’s credentials as a poet are impeccable: a former US Poet Laureate, he has twice won the Pulitzer Prize as well as the National Book Award and has written several previous books of children’s poetry (The Disappearing Alphabet, 1998, etc.), focusing on imaginative wordplay. Unfortunately, stellar achievements as a poet for adults don’t always translate into winning children’s poetry. The 28 short poems in this uneven collection all include the same device of highlighting shorter words that can be found in longer ones, with the particular words spotlighted in italics in the text. When the words sound the same (pig in spigot, ax in taxi, ouch in pouch), the wordplay device works well, and these poems could provide some clever spelling lessons for first or second graders. But when the highlighted words are spelled the same, but pronounced differently (cat in location, gnat in indignation, emu in demure), the wordplay doesn’t really work, and the device of the word within a word (and often the poem itself) becomes more of an academic exercise. Some of the poems are simple and witty; some are almost boring or include words unfamiliar to primary-grade children; and one poem about the devil is nearly predestined to cause trouble in any community with conservative parents looking for untoward influences in children’s books. Siebold (Olive the Other Reindeer, 1997, and the Mr. Lunch series) almost saves the book with his gloriously wacky illustrations, including his own additions of puns both visual and literary. As the poet himself writes, “Now that you’ve read this book; I hope you’ll say / That what you found inside it was OK.” It is OK—for large poetry collections or for avid collectors of Siebold’s work. (Poetry. 7-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-15-202019-5
Page count: 48pp
Publisher: Harcourt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 2000




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