ONE BIG YO TO GO by Valerie Osborne


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Osborne's whimsical, tripping nonsense rhymes rely for their humor on offbeat speculation as well as on deft, simple rhymes. She wonders why we grow upward from the knees, instead of down; why, ""If I/ Sit to think/ In the drink/ I sink [whereas] when ducks/ Sit to think/ In the drink/ They don't sink""; and how long it would take for the notes to come out if a giraffe could sing. She muses, too, on skin, noses, and a number of ""weird fellows"": One plays a fiddle with his toe; another, Charlie Bloggs, "". . . goes around/ In London fogs,/ Painting spots/ On plain black dogs""; and Simon Sebastian Snips eats apple pips: ""I slip them in between my lips,/ And, way down low/ Between my hips,/ I've grown an apple tree/ From pips."" Novak responds to the surreal suggestion of this rhyme with a right-side-up apple tree rising between two upside-down legs, bare feet turned outward. In general, the paintings, predominantly bronze in tone, are more sophisticated (or pseudo-sophisticated) than the rhymes, a bit glib with their obvious borrowings from early 20th-century art history, and often obtrusively painterly. Sometimes, the wit comes off: a Klee-like maze for a worm poem is amusing, as is the surreal absurdity of a prim spook with detached red nose. And the rhymes' drollery is never arch or arty.

Pub Date: Aug. 6th, 1981
Publisher: Oxford Univ. Press