Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Wonder Book by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Just past the title page of Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s latest book, readers see “10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 … Wonder Book” and get a glimpse of the creativity in the following pages. The Wonder Book is made up of a healthy dose of poetry, a dash of lists, a pinch of puns, the occasional story, all boldly seasoned with Paul Schmid’s illustrations.

The Wonder Book's humor, childhood wonderings, and simple black and white illustrations are reminiscent of Shel Silverstein’s work, but not in a “Boy-I-Think-I’ve-Read-This-All-Before” sort of way. It’s got more of a “This-Is-Great-New-Stuff-That-Reminds-Me-Why-I-Love-Where-The-Sidewalk-Ends-So-Much” sort of feel to it.

There’s parodies of famous verses, from “Tinkle, Tinkle, In the sea” to “Mary had a little lamp” to the story of five little piggies, my favorite of which “was a toast thief.”

There’s lists of “What you can’t run with” (including sharp pointy things and twin porcupines) and “What you can run with” (which naturally include a bag of marshmallows and a really small baby giraffe).  Adding further clarification, there’s “What grows on trees” (acorns, tree houses, the most important part of apple pie) and “What doesn’t grow on trees” (money, mittens, sausage).

Readers meet "Prince sdrawkcaB", whose poem begins at the bottom of the page with “Once upon a time” and ends at the top with “And to that we say, bye-good, The End.”

Readers also take a trip to “Brat City.”  (And being from Wisconsin, I feel it necessary to point out that Brat City is not Milwaukee.  Not in this sense, anyway.)  It’s brat, like spoiled child, not brat, like this guy:

Kids will love poems that feature kid-favorite topics.  “A Rose by Any Other Name” features something referred to as a pedo, fing, onara, and pud.  Regardless of who you are, where you are, or what language you speak, we read, “It’s just really really funny to hear a tushy squeak.”

The Wonder Book closes with “Rhyming Summary of the Universe.”  Sagely bits of advice for readers include:

“Stand up for your sibling or some picked-on first grader.”
“Go jump in a puddle, just bring extra socks.”
“Despite you best efforts, your goldfish may stop swimming.”
“64 crayons you do not really need.  To be happy with three is to be happy indeed.”

Unfortunately, one important bit of advice is not included in the final poem, so as a service, I’ll include it here.

For fun writing for children, you need no further look,
Just head out and get Amy’s The Wonder Book.

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