CM . . .
. Volume XII Number 4 . . . .October 14, 2005
I need to buy a monster
Floyd the Flamingo and His Flock of Friends is a slim volume of silly poetry. The rhyming verse has a bouncy rhythm that is fun to read aloud. The poems are brief, ranging from a few lines to just over a page in length. Although the entire collection is similar in tone, each poem stands on its own. In just a few short lines, Stone is able to convey a mini-story, exemplified by "Tree Dreaming" in which a tree waits for a new fall dress of red and yellow leaves.
The cast of characters includes animals that won't be found in a zoo: a piranha named Fred, a cat named Scaredy, and a big brutish dog named Fluffy. Many of the poems are written from an animal's point of view. The book opens with a flamingo's complaints about aches in his long legs, and later a dog explains what it is like to have fleas.
The poems are loosely grouped into categories such as "Day Play" and "Night Play." Children bake pies out of mud and dress as Vikings alongside a kite that is afraid of heights and a houseplant that guzzles milkshakes. Stone's enjoyable style of nonsense is clearly influenced by Shel Silverstein.
What flavour is a jellyfish?
Kathryn Shoemaker's charming illustrations are scratchboard drawings. Similar stylistically to woodcuts, they capture the playful mood of the poems. The rough-hewn edges lend a sense of movement to the black and white images. Her portraits of polka-dotted pigs and sneezing robins dance around the page, adding weight to an otherwise visually sparse page.
The book's simple vocabulary makes this a good choice for early readers, while younger children will enjoy hearing the poems read aloud. The brevity and lyric quality of each poem encourage multiple readings. Predominant themes of animals, plants, and playtime could be easily incorporated into related activities and crafts.
Heidi Dolamore is a candidate for Master of Library and Information Studies at the University of British Columbia.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.