[review + giveaway] Keep a Pocket in Your Poem by J. Patrick Lewis and Johanna Wright

Keep a poem in your pocket
and a picture in your head
and you’ll never feel lonely
at night when you’re in bed.

~ Beatrice Schenk de Regniers (“Keep a Poem in Your Pocket”)

So begins J. Patrick Lewis’s brand new poetry picture book, in which he pairs 13 classic poems on a variety of subjects with his own inventive parodies. Beatrice Schenk de Regnier’s opening poem sets the tone by touting the delights of the imagination, while Lewis’s poetic response (“Keep a Pocket in Your Poem”) advises us to think up wondrous, concrete objects (“red hawk feather,/silver penny, pinkie ring”) to spark the creative process.

In his introduction, Lewis explains that writing a parody is the best way to pay tribute to someone else’s work. He’s clearly a poet who likes to tweak, twist and tinker — not only with words, but with ideas, thoughts, and emotions.

As old poem faces off against new, it’s interesting to see the different directions Lewis has taken as he echoes, mimics, and counters. With this side by side format, young readers are given great examples of how one might imitate a well-known poem, whether they choose to express a similar sentiment (Lewis’s “Winter Warmth” in response to Langston Hughes’s “Winter Sweetness”), or contrast the original (Lewis’s “Rats” vs. Rose Flyeman’s “Mice,” or Lewis’s “Hail” vs Carl Sandburg’s “Fog”).

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celebrating colin firth’s birthday with goodnight mr. darcy, a recipe and a special giveaway!

 

Dear Mr. Firth,

You must allow us to tell you how ardently we admire and love you.

To celebrate your 54th birthday, we’re serving up a 3-course repast here at Alphabet Soup: a brand new picture book, a spot of tea, and you.

Whether as Fitzwilliam Darcy or Mark Darcy, you truly take the cake. May we be so bold as to say you are stunning wet, dry, and everything in-between?

And boy, can you rock a cravat and waistcoat.

We remain your loyal fans, wishing you the best birthday ever.

With deep affection and hearts a-flutter,

Every female in the world with a pulse
xoxoxoxo

*   *   *

♥ FIRST COURSE ♥
Goodnight Mr. Darcy by Kate Coombs and Alli Arnold

 

It is a truth universally acknowledged that an earnest writer and a department store sniffing artist in possession of talent and wit must be in want of a good parody.

For award winning author Kate Coombs and award-winning illustrator Alli Arnold, a send-up of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice à la beloved children’s classic Goodnight Moon was just the thing to set their bonnets a-twirl.

In the great ballroom
There was a country dance
And a well-played tune
And Elizabeth Bennet —

So begins this tidy tale of moonlight and romance, as all are gathered at the Netherfield Ball — Lydia and Kitty looking pretty, Mr. Darcy surprised by a pair of fine eyes, Jane with a blush and Mr. Bingley turned to mush, and let’s not forget a certain gossiping mother and a father saying ‘hush’.

Those familiar with Pride and Prejudice know that the Ball is a crucial scene — where Darcy has singled out Elizabeth, and caught off-guard, she agrees to dance with him. They are allowed to engage in unchaperoned conversation (gasp!), their unguarded repartee ever-so-temptingly weakening their resolve.

In Goodnight Mr. Darcy (Gibbs Smith, 2014), Kate has retained the simple rhyming structure and lulling cadence of Brown’s Goodnight Moon, but with a brilliant tongue-against-blushing cheek makeover that outlines all the delectable aspects of the prim and proper Darcy/Lizzy conscious coupling from ‘cute meet’ at the dance to mutual mooning over each other at home to happily ever after. The Mr. Bingley and Jane pairing adds a bit of ‘mushy’ humor boys will appreciate, while the whole concept of a fancy dress ball with tipping of top hats, flitting of fans and oh-so-civilized how-de-do’s will have special appeal to girls.

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friday feast: the biting humor of why do i chase thee by jessica swaim and chet phillips

“He who chases his own tail has a full circle moment.” ~ Issa Shih Tzu

Ahhrrrooooo!

I’ve got my nose in the best book!

Why Do I Chase Thee: Classic Poetry for Dogs from Elizabeth Basset Browning and Other Canine Masters by Jessica Swaim and Chet Phillips is tail-waggin’ brilliant and totally blows my ears back. Can you dig it?

Finally, finally, dogs have their day and their say. For far too long, silly humans have discounted their random bow wows, arfs, woofs, yips, and yaps. Here’s proof that some of these mutts were actually sniffing out sonnets and licking limericks with the best of them.

Make no bones about it, this snappy little volume features sixteen of the most celebrated poetic pooches of all time, including four-time Poolitzer Prize winner Rover Frost, iambic puptameter whizzard William Shakespaw, haiku master Issa Shih Tzu, and the somewhat repentant Dogden Dash, who knows just what to do with a rhymed puplet:

SPECIAL DELIVERY

Judging by their ankles, here’s my educated guess:
The FedEx man tastes better than the guy from UPS.

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kitTEA: in which we nibble on tuna and meow about chris kelly’s Downton Tabby

What are you looking at?

You’ve been here almost three seconds and you still haven’t complimented me. Does silky grey fur mean nothing to you? Ill manners are terribly middle class.

*tail swish*

Mr. Cornelius humors Jellylorum.

Oops, how did Jellylorum get hold of my laptop? Mr. Cornelius invited him over for a kitTea so we could discuss Chris Kelly’s  Downton Tabby (Simon & Schuster, 2013).

I hate tea. Give me milk.

We had fun noshing on this whisker-twitching 80-page parody about the upper clawst Clowder family and the downstairs cats who work like dogs waiting on them.

Everyone knows cats are the aristocrats of the animal kingdom. Downton Tabby offers us the privilege of seeing them in all their stately splendor, doing what they do best — looking good, ambling around, being fed, setting a fine example, being admired.

But alas! Their traditional role in society — providing work for others — is being threatened by the “tides of history.” Yes, fur will fly.

Wait, I’ll take tea. No, milk. No, tea. Tea with Milk!

Check out these feisty felines: Robert, Earl of Grimalkin; his beautiful Chat-elaine, Korat; their three daughters, Minxy (the pretty one), Serval (the prettier one) and Lady Etcetera (the other one); heir presumptive Matthmew; and of course, the one and only Dowager Catness, Vibrissa. Let’s not forget Catson the Butler, Mrs. Mughes the Housecreeper, Thomas Farel (Evil Foot Cat), Tom the Chau-fur, Laisy (Kitchen Maid) and Mrs. Catmore the Cook.

Got bacon?

It’s all here, every joy and catastrophe:

Their lives, loves, births, deaths, marriages, affairs, prides, prejudices, senses, sensibilities, mills, flosses, cakes, ales, high teas and fun fairs, car accidents, scandals, bouts of Spanish influenza, and war with Germany.

I will now proceed to languidly shred your upholstery.

We daintily nibbled on our tuna sandwiches as we chuckled over the whole kitten caboodle: the non-stop tom foolery, witticisms, sight gags, revised “history,” bon mots — all essential advice for preserving the gentry’s “Golden Age.” After all, any one of us may someday find ourselves among “Those Who Have Things Done for Them,” and we must follow a solid Code of Conduct. What is the proper way to sleep, feed, groom, feed, loaf (“in a decorative and highly charming manner”), feed, cast a withering glare (to communicate both affection and disapproval)?

Why aren’t you withering?

 

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