MINESTRONE by Ruth Krauss


A Ruth Krauss Collection.
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. . ."in a poem you make your point with lemons-on-fire." In a review, even a Kirkus review, it is necessary to be more prosaically straightforward. What, then, given this recycled collection of items as disparate as the elements in any one of them, are we to make of Ruth Krauss? There's a shade of '60s twee (admittedly staked out by Krauss in the '50s) to the best of her stuff; and at worst it verges on airy nothings as in "What a Fine Day," when stripped of the original music and Remy Charlip pictures. . . or treads a blurry line around the kingdom of cute baby talk ("Making Sandwich Kisses") or cotton-candy fancies ("The Doll in Pink"). Whimsy sprouts like button mushrooms and threatens perpetually to cloy, and sometimes does. How else can one respond to "The Fortune-Teller Flower?" But then, who can keep a straight face through "50,000 Dogwood Trees at Valley Forge". . . or (let's admit it) "Spring Song: Winnie-the-Pooh and William Shakespeare?" Or fail to be disarmed by the flashes of wanton incongruity in "Play I" (with pineapples and spies) or "There's a Little Ambiguity Over There Among the Bluebells?" Much of the kid stuff was better served in separate, picture-hook slices, and ". . . but for whom" is the obvious cavil here, with all the little kisses and wishes and horsies in their avant-garde clothing scattered in among the weary rue of "If Only," the allusions to Shakespeare's married-man cuckoo, and the lines from Gertrude Stein and Molly Bloom. The publishers designate this for "all ages," which is often an optimistic 'alternative to throwing up their hands. But if this doesn't belong everywhere, or even anywhere in particular, you'd better make a place for it somewhere over there among the bluebells. Someone's likely to be lit up by those lemons-on-fire and might even take a heady dive into that "lake in the middle of a sentence.
Pub Date: Aug. 10th, 1981
ISBN: 0688005985
Page count: 110pp
Publisher: Greenwillow
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 1981