friday feast: David Booth’s Head to Toe Spaghetti and Other Tasty Poems

Time to put on your best bib and lick your chops. There’s a new foodie poetry book in town!

In Head to Toe Spaghetti and Other Tasty Poems (Rubicon, 2015), Canadian author, poet, educator and literacy expert David Booth serves up 59 toothsome gems culled from his writings of the last 40 years. These delectable delights are presented in five mouthwatering courses and are sure to “tickle your lips, tangle your tongue, tease your imagination, twist your sentences, and tenderize your heart.”

Begin by wrapping your lips around 10 Fast Food Rhymes featuring kid favorites like “Fish and Chips,” “Chicken Fingers” and “A Dangerous Drink” (burp!). Move on to tasty Snackers and Crackers (“A Thin Slice of Cake,” “A Dumb Plum,” and “Blueberry Lips”). Still hungry? With Food Daze we’re invited to celebrate the “Sounds of Beautiful Food” (courgette, almondine, radicchio, buttermilk), relish the hidden goodness in “Gift-Wrapped” natural foods (coconuts, bananas, oranges), or wiggle, jiggle, and swiggle with glee like a “Jell-o Fanatic.”

Then with Knife, Fork, or Spoon it’s time to tempt our palates at “A Seaside Bar,” succumb to “Pancake Fever,” or share an ant sandwich with our teacher. 🙂 If you’ve still got room (oh, yes you do!), chow down on some lively Family Fare, including “Four O’Clock Tea” with Grandma, some “Wok Trouble!” with Mom, Dad’s anchovy obsession (“A Slice of Life”), and if you dare, explode-in-your-mouth fiery sauce barbecue from “The Sauce Boss.”

The mostly rhyming verses explore common, relatable experiences like using chopsticks for the first time, spilling a drink on your first airplane ride, cringing at a double chip dipper, a younger sibling always spilling milk, or an older sibling drinking straight from the carton. Poems featuring sushi and curry add spice to the mix, while the cautionary “Life Cycle” reminds us in a lighthearted way about the consequences of eating too much junk food.

Of course there are the usual anti-vegetable poems and the always reactionary yucky food poems. I felt like Len and I deserved a special badge of honor after reading “Prohibited Food,” since between us we have eaten everything listed: “Tail of ox/Legs of frog,/Head of fish,/Feet of hog./Liver of calf,/Brain of sheep . . . ” Add rattlesnake, tripe, beef heart, alligator, crocodile, gazelle, beef kidneys, Rocky Mountain oysters, ostrich, gazelle, and wildebeest (sorry, Irene), to the list. I’m thinking of going vegan. 🙂

Most poems are garnished with a fetching pen-and-ink drawing by Les Drew (yes, that’s really his name :D) to ramp up the fun — everything from jogging hot dogs and cymbal clashing broccoli to a plier wielding lobster and a grinning blueberry pie. Lots of giggles packed inside this sunny bright collection that is sure to delight poetry-loving munchkins who don’t mind a strand or two of spaghetti wiggling out of their noses.

Today I’m happy to serve up a mixed platter of sample poems with a few drool-worthy virtual treats. Just because it’s my birthday, everything is cake. Bon Appétit!

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“Hamburger, Hotdog and Fries” Cake by Katherine Hill (Charm City Cakes)


Fast food
Hamburg to go!
Carton of fries,
Shakes overflow.
HONK that horn,
We’re in the mood —
No time to waste!
(Automatic food!)



No time for lunch!
A stomach in need
Of food food food
With speed speed speed.

The hot-dog man
Right at the curb,
All set to go–
Just say the word.

One fat wiener,
One warm bun,
Add the ketchup

*    *    *

via Cake Central


The rink goes round,
The skaters glide,
The snowflakes fall.
I wait inside.
Cold nose is out,
Hot chocolate’s in.
I love to wear
A skater’s grin.

*   *   *

Apple Cupcakes from What’s New, Cupcake?


Hidden in the leaves
Waiting to be found
Shake the branches,
Cover the ground.

Pippin, Russet
Courtland, Snow,
Heavy laden,
Branches low.

Red Delicious
Northern Spy,
Branches high.

Choose your menu
Row on row,
Apple orchard —
Crunch to go.

*   *   *


My brother loves
The Sandwich Stop.
Bread on the bottom
Bread on the top.
Nothing in the middle,
Nothing in between,
An empty sandwich,
Is his routine.

Now my favourite sandwich
At the Sandwich Stop is
“A French fry sandwich
With ketchup on top.”

*   *   *

Sushi Cake via Pearles Specialty Cake Co.


At a sushi bar
The food is gift-wrapped.
Each tiny morsel
Designed by an artist
on a lacquered tray
So symmetrical
You hesitate
to break the spell

Barbecued eel,
Raw tuna chunks,
Fresh yellow tail,
Juicy pork gyoza.
Steamed giant shrimp
Teriyaki sauce
Marinated mushrooms
A seaweed toss.
Tiny quail eggs,
Avocado spears,
A meal complete

When rice appears.

We choose our dinner
As if at a jewellery boutique
And carry our treasures
Into the rainy night
To be devoured in our car.
Such a disgrace
To the spirit of sushi.
But our stomachs growl
the perfect offering.
Then we wipe our lips
Ever so delicately
With the backs
Of our hands.

Sushi Cupcakes via Brit + Co.

*   *   *


written by David Booth
illustrated by Les Drew
published by Rubicon, Fall 2015
Poetry Collection for ages 5+, 48 pp.


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poetry fridayThe lovely and talented Tricia Stohr-Hunt is hosting the Roundup today at The Miss Rumphius Effect. Skip on over and check out the full menu of poetic goodies on this week’s menu.

wkendcookingiconThis post is also being linked to Beth Fish Read’s Weekend Cooking, where all are invited to share their food-related posts. Put on your best bibs and aprons, and come join the fun!


*Spreads from Head to Toe Spaghetti posted by permission of the publisher, text copyright © 2015 David Booth, illustrations © 2015 Les Drew, published by Rubicon. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2015 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.


56 thoughts on “friday feast: David Booth’s Head to Toe Spaghetti and Other Tasty Poems

  1. *cries because she didn’t win Eloise*

    *beams happily because it’s your birthday!* Hope you’re having a fantastic birthday, Jama, with lots of chocolate and fewer sheep’s brains. 😀 (I’m giving another vote to the hot chocolate cake, btw.) The poems are my kind of poetry – loads of fun. The sushi poem that ended with them wiping their lips on their hands cracked me up. 😀



      1. Ah, but I’ve always appreciated silly poetry – that’s why I like Shel Silverstein. And not much else. 😛


    1. I confess the more exotic foods were consumed by Len, so no sheep’s brains or crocodile for me today, or any day. Unless they’re made of chocolate . . . 🙂


  2. Happy Birthday to the Queen of Alphabet Soup and Everything! I love the broad range of poems in this book – something for everyone! Thank you and Mr. Cornelius for sharing, crumbs and all. xo


    1. Thanks, Irene. It’s a fun collection, my first time reading David Booth’s work. Also enjoyed the drawings that Les Drew drew . . . (had to say that)! 🙂


  3. Happy Birthday, Jama! I know the perfect grandchild for Head to Toe Spaghetti! I agree, here’s to you with my chocolate bites.


  4. I do love each one, but noted “automatic food”-a new way to look at it. I had a bit of Pancake Fever this am & luckily I met friends for breakfast at a place that celebrates its pancakes. Yum! Happy Birthday one more time, Jama, and thanks for showing off this wonderful book.


  5. Hope your b-day has been glorious–just like you. You write with such verve, vim, and vigor (to be purposely, decidedly, emphatically redundant)…week after week, bright, glorious photos to boot. Truly, you cannot be getting older (weaker, tired-er); no! Truly, you are getting better…I want whatever brand of chocolate you’re eating or drinking! Every blessing for this special day and every day! Keep filling us with your one-of-a-kind creative feastings! Thank you! God bless you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the lovely birthday wishes!! So nice to hear you’re enjoying the posts. Appreciate your stopping by to read with such attention and enthusiasm!!


      1. Honestly, after 18 years in publishing, I continue being super-impressed each week by the crispness, “cleanness” and clarity of your layout/design/visuals. As if that weren’t enough, your writing matches the visual context–it is lively, fast-paced, tight, yet filled with beautiful, original expressions. You are an editor’s, designer’s, marketer’s dream! …Thank you for brightening and enlightening my Fridays!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh my gosh, that back cover is adorable! 4 o’clock teatime was our tradition with my English grandmother. I’m looking forward to reading that poem especially.


  7. Hi there, birthday girl! I hope it was a good one!

    I have to admit, Jama, you had me at “toothsome gems.” Love all the poetic samples you provided this week.

    Happy Thanksgiving!


  8. After reading the prohibited foods, I made a sigh of relief and a laugh. This is a great gift. Like these food poems.


  9. Love this! And the back of the book is so cute. What a great design idea. Love the poems and the artwork. Perfect for a birthday. Happy day!!!


  10. Jama, I always know I’m in for a treat when I read your posts – I save them for last, as if they’re my little treat at the end of Poetry Friday (which sometimes takes me until Sunday to read through….) OMG, I love Week Daze – I want a calendar with those names on the days 🙂 And though the hot-chocolate cake is pretty snazzy, my favorite is the ham sandwich w/ sliced eggs and olive on top – I can’t imagine how that was made…incredible!!!


    1. Yes, those week daze are the best! Don’t know how people can make such fancy cakes — truly works of art, sculptures that are too beautiful to eat!


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