Poetry Friday: Rhyming and Coupling with
Rover and One Pygmy Hippo

h1 December 15th, 2006 by jules

* {Read here at Big A little a for today’s Poetry Friday round-up} . . .

Let’s take a look for this week’s Poetry Friday at two amusing ’06 picture book titles, one of them nominated for a Cybil in the Fiction Picture Books category and both of them written in rhyming text — closed couplets, to be exact, for you Poetry Sticklers (and I say that fondly).

ninety-three-in-my-family.gifNinety-Three in My Family by Erica S. Perl and illustrated by Mike Lester; published by Abrams Books for Young Readers — Know someone with a lot of pets? Bet they don’t have as many as the little tyke in this Cybil-nominated book; he lives with ninety-two humans and animals — and all in one home — as he tells his stunned teacher one morning during class. Oh my but this is a funny book (there’s one pygmy hippo named Bernice in the home if that gives you an idea of the book’s freakish funniness). And the text, rhyming effortlessly, and Lester’s wonderfully manic cartoon illustrations work together seamlessly. There are twenty-seven owls, ten cats, eleven dogs, pink flamingos, eight frogs, tigers, a Great Dane, and many more in this boy’s home — cohabitating with “my mommy and my daddy/ That hungry gerbil, Ed/ Six goldfish, and my sisters/ Darlene and Winifred,” a recurring refrain. And they’ve all gotta eat and get places and take baths and head to bed and all kinds of other routine domestic scenarios that Lester seems to have had great joy depicting with his quirky pen-and-ink (and digitally colored) illustrations. I won’t tell you how it ends, how there end up being ninety-four in the household, ’cause you should read it — and if only just to see the pygmy hippo’s snappy, unique sartorial style when it comes to PJs (it’s a good year for memorable picture-book-PJs, huh?).

move-over-rover.gifMove Over, Rover! by Karen Beaumont and illustrated by Jane Dyer; published by Harcourt — Beaumont’s written a tight, sweet cumulative tale here about a dog who is itchin’ to play with a friend. Off he goes to find a playmate when, lo and behold, the rain begins. He’s a bit miffed about this; heading back to his dog house, he finds that he gets what he’s asked for — and then some. Cat, Raccoon, Squirrel, Blue Jay, and Snake all crowd in the dog house with Rover in order to stay dry. But what Rover and his friends don’t know — but the observant child will spot right away at the story’s beginning — is that an aromatic skunk has slipped his way into the back of the dog house. And, needless to say, he makes his presence known in the end, making all the animals scatter. By this time and even though the rain’s ended, Rover’s cross and offended and nettled enough to decide to crawl back in there by himself, thanks very much. No romping or jumping or racing or chasing balls for him, thanks. He’d rather be alone. Grouchy Old Man, indeed. Love it. Rover’s a riot. Beaumont’s rhymes are infectious; this would be a wonderful read-aloud to pre-schoolers. There’s much humor here, particularly each usurping animal’s command to the ones that came before, which build upon one another throughout the story, bringing us in the end: “Slide aside, Snake! Out of the way, Blue Jay! Squeeze in, Squirrel! Make room, Raccoon! Skit-scat, Cat! Move over, Rover!” Dyer’s watercolors radiate warmth and much empathy here for our poor puppy protagonist. Her unrelenting drops of rain give the book’s pages a definite visual rhythm as well. A light-hearted, playful read, which will elict much laughter from the wee ones.

snowsounds1.gifAnd in case you missed it earlier, check out David A. Johnson’s Snow Sounds, reviewed here by Yours Truly. This one’s not written in rhyming text, but it’s an onomatopoeic story. And it’s lovely, as Johnson invites readers to play with language, to appreciate the poetry of words that imitate sound.

Happy Poetry Friday to all . . .

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4 comments to “Poetry Friday: Rhyming and Coupling with
Rover and One Pygmy Hippo”

  1. OMG, Jules, did I tell you that Erica Perl is (was?) a patron at my library – but I haven’t seen her in a while. Anyway, she came in and showed Chicken Bedtime is Really Early to me when it was first published. And I just got 93 in this week – love that hippo. And Ed the gerbil.


  2. very cool. if you see her again, tell her we love her books.


  3. will do. also, i meant to say, thanks for covering PF duty this week. great choices!


  4. [...] manage to get yourself copies and take a gander, you won’t be disappointed. Erica (who penned this very funny picture book in 2006) brings us Chicken Butt!, released by Abrams in April. She’s adapted into picture [...]


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