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Calling All Animals

Author: Jeff Natha
Genre: Poetry
Reviewed by Karyn Walden-Forrest

cover artJeff Nathan has created this first book of "PunOETRY", Calling All Animals. It's filled with 47 poems containing puns. The book is intended for children aged 8-12 and will make a child smile.

Each poem fills one page and across on the next page is an illustration depicting a part of the poem. The length of each poem ranges from 4 to 20 lines, and, as can be expected from the title, they all have to do with animals. Poem titles include: Animal Food, Unherd Of, and Greeting Hyenas.

All the poems are loaded with puns and play on all kinds of word situations. Sometimes the word will be bolded, and if the word is harder to understand in context with the different spelling it will have the meaning in parenthesis to the right of the line. Here is an example from Animal Food:

The bird that's best of all is macrowni (macaroni)
And eggplant us the best of all the ants.
Cowliflower's yummy, (cauliflower)
with pigkles in my tummy, (pickles)
but choc'late moose can really make me dance. (mousse)

As you can see, there are puns throughout just this section of the poem, and it is representative of the entire book. A lot of the puns are really clever. I liked one about a moth named Pete who flew into a bug zapper and how children moths should learn from his mistakes and never “re-Pete” his actions. Others are rather ho-hum and even seemed like a stretch to me, such as one about a turtle's shell and the word shell being interchanged with the word shall. "Shall I pack up my shell yet again? Yes, I shell." It just didn't work for me.

For the most part the poems are all very different, even with the same theme. There is a lot of vocabulary, some that may be new to children, and a lot of information about animals in the poems that might teach the reader some things as it is being read. This is not a book that could be read to a child though, as that would defeat the whole purpose of the sound versus the word used idea.

The illustrations in this book are just pencil/pen drawings. They are appropriately representative of the poems. One fun thing about the illustrations is that in every one can be found a bee and a slug. The bee is generally easy to find, but the slug can be more a challenge. It is fun finding the hidden bugs in each picture. The illustrations were done by Liz Ball.

Overall this book is fun to read. But there were no poems that I thought, “wow this is going to be my new favorite poem.” It will give children some new ways of thinking about the English language, and can lead into further discussions about puns in general.


July 11, 2004 in Poetry | Permalink


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