friday feast: a peek at world rat day by j. patrick lewis and anna raff

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Usually I don’t like to say this in polite company, but ahem . . .  I smell a rat!

Actually four rats, nattily sporting bowtie, necktie, fedora, and boater, casually working the stripes, football jerseys, overalls, scuba gear and yes, bunny ears, as they boogie, strut, scamper and cavort through the pages of this brand new poetry collection by our studly but relentlessly mischievous Children’s Poet Laureate, J. Patrick Lewis.

Due props to him and award-winning illustrator Anna Raff for creating this zany celebration of 22 “Real Holidays You’ve Never Heard Of ” in World Rat Day (Candlewick, 2013), destined to be an instant favorite among munchkins and short grown-ups who enjoy quirky-fun animal poems, what poet Bobbi Katz calls “ear food for elementary school kids.”

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I do love wild and wacky holidays (who, me?), so was happy to see “Paddy Pork” in honor of National Pig Day (March 1), “With Nuts Only” for Yell “Fudge!” at the Cobras in North America Day (June 2), and “Chocolate-Covered Ants” for Chocolate-Covered Anything Day (December 16, but that holiday should last at least a month).

Mr. Lewis regales us with rhymers and free verse, a clever concrete poem for Pink Flamingo Day, and for National Limerick Day, five ditties featuring body parts: “The Hip,” “The Foot,” “The Butt,” “The Flipper,” and “The Paw.” All in good pun, the way to a child’s heart is through rhythm and word play doused with giggles.

My favorite poem in the book? It’s an etiquette primer in honor of Dragon Appreciation Day (January 16) — fun with an eyebrow-raising edge:

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EIGHT TABLE MANNERS FOR DRAGONS

At every meal, bow your head, fold your wings, and say, “Graze.”
Wait till someone screams, “Let’s heat!”
Don’t talk with people in your mouth.
Never blow on your soup. That only makes it hotter.
Don’t smoke.
Never remove a hare from your food.
Play with your food, but don’t let it run around screaming.
Chew your food. Once.

~ Copyright © 2013 J. Patrick Lewis. All rights reserved.

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And since National Poetry Month is right around the corner, two April holidays: Firefly Day (April 10) and Bat Appreciation Day (April 17). Love how both of these capture that ingenuous sense of childlike wonder:

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 A THOUSAND BABY STAR

When I was ten, I ran to catch
A baby star that leapt
Among the trees, a dime of light
I cupped and capped, and kept.

How could I ever catch them all
As they were getting ready
To fire up a festival?
ELECTRIFIED CONFETTI.

~ Copyright © 2013 J. Patrick Lewis. All rights reserved.

* * *

BATS

Upside-down sleepers
Awaking in waves
Are Sweepers of Twilight
And Keepers of Caves

Black sacks in the morning
Airmailed at night
Dispatchers of insects
In boomerang flight

Brushed hushes are not
Evening’s violin strings
But murmurs to moonbeams
And whispers on wings

~ Copyright © 2013 J. Patrick Lewis. All rights reserved.

* * *

Anna Ratt’s Raff’s inventive and imaginative digitally assembled ink washes and drawings are teeming with precisely the kind of humorous details kids love (“dressed” chickens, Cub Scout worms, a fashionably heeled centipede, penguin waiter, pink flamingos decked out to the nines).

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And let’s not forget about those rats. Who knew they could actually be so charming (and they don’t even smell bad)? They have their own storyline going on throughout the book. Not satisfied with staying on their own holiday page, they’ve taken it upon themselves to cruise and carouse with most of the other holiday animals. And why not? When you have the right rattitude, anything goes.

But when is World Rat Day, you ask? April 4 So DO NOT forget to rat-a-tat or tip your hat to them in a little less than 2 weeks.🙂

Now, check out this très cool trailer created by Ms. Anna:

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♥ IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT ♥

*taps microphone*

Attention, attention! Due to Mr. Lewis’s splendid work in World Rat Day, Alphabet Soup officially proclaims —

Yes

Yes

Rat here, Rat now  . . .

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Today, March 22, as WORLD PAT DAY!

Write that down, poetry lovers, and celebrate as you see fit. Why not tell us what your favorite J. Patrick Lewis poem or poetry book is in the comments (you only have a skerjillion million to choose from)?

* * *

rat day coverWORLD RAT DAY: Poems About Real Holidays You’ve Never Heard Of
written by J. Patrick Lewis
illustrated by Anna Raff
published by Candlewick Press, March 2013
Poetry Picture Book for ages 5-8, 40 pp.
*Best enjoyed in your brown fur suit and bowtie

* * *

♥ MORE TATTY RATTINESS ♥

* * *

poetryfriday180The always dapper, doughnut-loving poet, author, and social media maven Greg Pincus is hosting today’s Roundup at GottaBook. Tap dance over to check out the full menu of poetic goodness being served up in the blogosphere this week. Do not, I repeat, do not, give him a doughnut unless he’ll stand on his head and recite “Doughnuts, Oh Doughnuts!” for you.

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*WORLD RAT DAY. Text copyright © 2013 by J. Patrick Lewis. Illustrations copyright © 2013 by Anna Raff. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

Copyright © 2013 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

50 thoughts on “friday feast: a peek at world rat day by j. patrick lewis and anna raff

  1. You know, with every JPL poem I read, I think…this was all lying dormant for 30 years in the impostor mind of an economist. How lucky we are that he let the dragons loose. I adore the poems you shared and just put this in my Amazon shopping cart.

    “don’t let it run around screaming” – this makes me happy.🙂

    Thanks for another gorgeous post, Jama. I see Pat has made it to eye candy status, too. But no hover-message for us?

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  2. Love this post. The illustrator (if I get the interview done this weekend!) will stop by 7-Imp next week. We both have rats on the mind, mrs. b!

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    1. I hear you on the rat tails — I get that same shivery shuddery feeling when I see possum tails too (just saw one the other day in the back yard). Just like rat tails only much bigger. Possum faces are cute; just wish they’d lose their tails.🙂

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  3. Wonderful! Did you know today is World Water Day? Wonder if Pat has a poem for that… (silly question!)

    Spring Rain
    J. Patrick Lewis

    I puddle up the neighborhood
    I make the mailman mad
    Iw ake the worm and spank the frog
    Sleeping on his lily pad

    And when the tulips in their beds
    Nod happily, it’s true,
    I shake the petals of their hands
    And say, How do you dew?

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    1. Happy World Water Day to you, Andi. Thanks for sharing Pat’s spring rain poem. He always delivers, doesn’t he? Love those nodding tulips🙂.

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  4. I know a huge number of kids who will love this, Jama. You are the queen of punsters! Love that, actually sweet, bat poem especially. I like quite a few of J. Patrick Lewis’ books, but one recent is Edgar Allan Poe’s Pie. I’ve shared it with all those who teach math, who love it too. Thanks for sharing this one-will look forward to April 4th!

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    1. Oh, yes, love that one too — just too clever (and one of my favorite poetry book titles ever). Glad you enjoyed the bat poem, Linda.🙂

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  5. Jama, your post, once again, is brilliant! World “Pat” Day is a stroke of genius. I can’t wait to get my hands on Pat’s new collection – Pink Flamingo Day – who’d a thunk? Thanks for your blog. =)

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  6. Jama, this book sounds like so much fun. I have to share the Pink Flamingo poem with my friend who adores all things pink and feathered. I’d love to know how Pat (or the illustrator) chose the rats — rather than the pig or the dragons — to be the maitre d’s for this book. Any thoughts?

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  7. Don’t tell hubby but I am totally going to get this. What wonderful rhyme! My favourite would have to be National Geographic Animal poems. Thanks for sharing, Jama!

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    1. Great choice, Catherine — that one won the 2013 Claudia Lewis Poetry Award. Enjoy World Rat Day — ssshhh (won’t tell your hubby).

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  8. This sounds delightful–and I loved that book trailer. Definitely putting it on my wish list. Thanks for sharing it.

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    1. And I meant to add, I love J. Patrick Lewis’ Giraffe (which I linked to in my blog today) and his Flamingo, the shape poem example towards the end of the National Geographic Book.

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    2. Anna did a splendid job with the trailer. GREAT music too. Those shape poems are quite the typesetter’s challenge I imagine. The flamingo, in particular, was pretty complicated. Maybe there’s a shape poem school one could enroll in?

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  9. Thank you for featuring this book, Jama! I can’t wait to get a copy. I have so many favorite poems by J.Patrick Lewis, it’s impossible to choose. His poems are like Lays potato chips: “Betcha can’t [read] just one!

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  10. Oh, I ‘m going to HAVE to buy this book. What a beyond-delightful post, Jama – I think Mr. C. did more than just pose for pictures because this adventure appears to be more than one human could possibly conjure up. Congrats to JPL and Anna Raff. Will check out the Flamingo spread – I’m from Fla. originally and my family and I “flamingo” each other when visiting.

    Re. a fave – impossible to choose, but JPL’s THE HOUSE illustrated by Roberto Innocenti is one of my all-time favorites.

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    1. The House is sublime, isn’t it? Yes, I LOVE that one too.

      Your family flamingo-ing sounds fun. Do you stand on one leg the whole time you’re visiting?😀

      Mr. Cornelius loved playing with all the animals in this book, but was a little afraid of the rats. Guess he wasn’t quite over his tiger experience yet. Though he likes the flamingos, he draws the line at wearing pink.

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  11. It’s so much fun coming here and reading your witty and interesting offerings. The book sounds fabulous.

    Right now I have sitting on my desk ‘the book of animal poetry’ edited by J. Patrick Lewis. What gorgeous photos and the poetry of many. One by J. Patrick Lewis that made me chuckle was “Jack A” which begins: “The donkey is an ani-mule / who won’t put up with ridi-cule” and ends, “And if, of course, you call him Jack, / Don’t mention his last name.”

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  12. I’m noticing that not too many commenters have attempted to name a favorite JPL book! I’m not going to, either! I have 3 shelves of poetry in my classroom, and half of one of those shelves is JPL. Not a Poetry Friday passes without children choosing one of his poems to recite. Favorite books this year — Last Laughs, Take Two, National Geographic Animal Poetry, Riddle-lightful and Riddle-icious, and A Burst of Firsts. To name a few!

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    1. Yes, it’s an impossible question. Sounds like your students have good taste in selecting poems. You guide them well, Mary Lee🙂.

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  13. Lovelovelove this post. J Patrick Lewis is one of our favorites in GatheringBooks – I love the books that he also makes with Roberto Innocenti, have you seen those yet? Gorgeous. I enjoy wacky and little-known holidays – and finding excuses every single day to celebrate and be wildly happy. A Thousand Baby Star is my favorite – how could one not love electrified confetti – nothing quite like it, I’ve been told.🙂

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