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Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 46.
- Review Date: 2008-03-03
- Reviewer: Staff
With a clever premise—poems about the world's greatest something or other—Lewis (A World of Wonders: Geographic Travels in Verse and Rhyme) and Graves (Frank Was a Monster Who Wanted to Dance) assemble a poetry volume sure to appeal to assiduous readers of Guinness World Record books. Regrettably, the poems themselves are not always as intriguing as the oddball records they describe. Sometimes Lewis's meter stumbles, or his grasp on a particular topic weakens, but the poems often contain a sly rhyme or an idea that will grab the target audience, as in these words about an articulate canary that begins to “mutter, sputter/ Whenever he ate pnnnut bttttr.” Each poem lists the record associated with it; for example, “The Tallest Roller Coaster” is prefaced with the name, location and height of the actual attraction, after which Lewis describes the sensation of riding it (“You hold your breath,/ You lose your nerve,/ You're scared to death/ At every curve”). Graves's illustrations, like the best caricatures, match the wacky tone of the poems, as in “The Kookiest Hat” (“ 'A fried-egg hat repels the rain,'/ Was what the man replied,/ 'Because, my dear, I always wear/ It on the sunny side' ”). Ages 5-9. (Apr.)
Rhymes for young readers
New readers and listeners love the cadence and predictability of rhymed poems and J. Patrick Lewis is a master of the form. In the hyperbolically titled The World's Greatest Poems, illustrated by Keith Graves he offers an amusing and inventive ride into the world of superlatives. From the kookiest hat to the tallest roller coaster to the highest air on a skateboard and every other nutty record in between, Lewis delights readers with his verbal acrobatics and clever poetic forms. The bouncy rhymes are illustrated with droll acrylic-and-pencil drawings that poke fun at the records that people keep. Here is Lewis' limerick to the world's largest potato: "There once was a tater named spud / Who said to his tater tot, 'Bud, / Remember the size is / What takes Tater Prizes, / So don't be a stick-in-the-mud!' " I can imagine young readers dragging out almanacs and record books to write other record-breaking poetry.