Tuesday, July 25, 2006


I can’t decide which I enjoy more, Calef Brown’s zany, syncopated story-poems or the crazy, cock-eyed story-paintings that accompany his poetry. In this new collection of “poems and paintings” he invites us into his slightly askew worldview in which cats tango, dogs wear plaid, and people routinely have blue skin or blue hair. And his wordplay and strong rhythms build poems that stand on their own two (three or four) feet. My current favorite has got to be this one (picture the half caterpillar, half alligator creature in the illustration):

Allicatter Gatorpillar

Allicatter Gatorpillar
chews a leaf,
shows his teeth.
Allicatter Gatorpillar
sings a song,
then he’s gone.
Allicatter Gatorpillar
by and by,
my oh my!
Allibutter Gatorfly!

by Calef Brown

I had the privilege of hearing Calef perform this and others of his poems at the Poetry Round Up at the Texas Library Association conference in April, as well as at the Poetry Blast at the American Library Association conference in June (mark your calendars and plan to attend both of these annual events next year). His dry, deadpan delivery was a hilarious surprise. Look for more from Calef Brown and share FLAMINGOS (Houghton Mifflin, 2006) with children of all ages—out loud for the fun of the words-- and show the illustrations to inspire both your poets AND your artists.

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