Sunday, October 7, 2012

His Shoes Were Far Too Tight

What I try to do with reviews at this Bookshelf blog is keep it simple and spoiler-free, and let you know whether I'd recommend you pick up a copy of what I just read. Seems to work okay. This time, a brief review of His Shoes Were Far Too Tight (Chronicle, 2011).

Edward Lear, the Victorian-era poet best known for "The Owl and the Pussycat," was a master of silly, inventive, nonsensical wordplay. He's also credited with popularizing limericks, without which, I fear, my father-in-law would have far fewer ways to amuse or confound his grandchildren. Sadly, Lear's work, which was once very popular, has slowly slid under the radar over the last few decades.

Daniel Pinkwater and Calef Brown have masterminded a wonderful reintroduction to Lear in one of the most thunderously silly books I've seen lately. His Shoes Were Far Too Tight, a 40-page hardback, is instantly recognizable thanks to Brown's eccentric, folky artwork. Inside, Pinkwater contributes a kid-friendly biography of Lear, and pays him appropriately goofy tribute in verse, and then it's off to weird tales of Pobbles, Jumblies, Quangle wangles and Runcible spoons.

I've given this book a try-out test drive on some unsuspecting four or five year-olds who've come by the shop, and it's gone over very well with them and their grown-ups. It's a gorgeous book full of silly things, and it kind of reinforces the reality that grown-ups are perfectly capable of being just as ridiculous as kids. Happily recommended for elementary school-age children, and their grandparents.

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