Friday, November 30, 2007

Poetry Friday Review: The Owl and the Pussycat

Celebration time! My new favorite series, Kids Can Press's Visions in Poetry, and my favorite Edward Lear poem, "The Owl and the Pussycat," meet together in one new volume. They fit together like pyjamas and a good book. Or espresso and a lemon bar. Like wasabi and soy sauce.

I've reviewed another Visions in Poetry book before--an edition of Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven. And I honestly can't go on and on enough about how wonderful this series is. Take a classic poem and pair it with compelling illustrations and you have a winner. I find that this series works best for the Middle Grade reader--one who may think she is too old for "The Owl and the Pussycat," but can't help staring at the loopy, appropriately-psychedelic illustrations by Stephane Jorisch, or too worldly-wise for The Raven, but can't turn away from Ryan Price's dark, creepy sketches. Visions in Poetry, by using new and interesting illustrations, brings poetry to every child.

This version of "The Owl and the Pussycat" begins with four two-page spreads without any words. We see a villa by the sea, complete with an owl bust in front of the house, and an urban-sophisticate cat on the subway platform at the "Owl Heights" station. The mismatched lovers share drinks together at Cafe de la gare. Tongues wag and soon the pair sets off in their "pea-green boat," watched all along by slightly-threatening monkeys, elephants, and other creatures all dressed in clothing. Soon the owl and the pussycat pass through an archway in the water and arrive to the mythical "land where the bong tree grows." Jorisch's illustrations at this point become cheerful and celebratory. The owl and the pussycat are accepted in this new land.

Today's Poetry Friday entry comes from my favorite part of "The Owl and the Pussycat," lines I love simply for their rhythm:

"Dear Pig,
are you willing
to sell for one shilling
Your ring?"
Said the Piggy,
"I will."

Go ahead. Read it aloud, just for fun.

I'll conclude this review and Poetry Friday entry with a letter. Maybe I'll even send it.

Dear Visions of Poetry editors,

I adore your series. Pretty please, can A.A. Milne's "Disobedience" (James James/Morrison Morrison/Weatherby George Dupree) be next?

Your humble reader,

Other blog reviews:

A Fuse #8
Through the Looking Glass Review

The roundup is over at Two Writing Teachers.

Speaking of reviews, there's a great debate on reviewing going on over at Gail Gauthier's Original Content. Head on over and add your two cents to the fray. (Debate inspired by Anne Boles Levy.)