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Kim's Book Reviews
| Home | Picture Books | Traditional Literature | Poetry | Nonfiction | Historical Fiction | Fantasy & Young Adult Fiction | Author Study: Lois Ehlert

by Douglas Florian


Florian, Douglas. BEAST FEAST. San Diego: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1994. ISBN 0152951784.


In this collection of poems, poet and illustrator Douglas Florian looks at twenty-one assorted animals from a unique perspective.


This humorous book uses clever puns and word play to bring many of the beasts described to life. The walrus who gets spattered by the sea becomes "walrusty" (p. 6), and "The rhea rheally isn't strange - / It's just an ostrich, rhearranged." (p. 18) are two examples of Florian's ingenious use of words. The style of verse varies from witty two-line poems like "The Rhea," to longer selections like "The Lobster," with its rhythmic flow and rhyme. All selections are accompanied by Florian's beautiful, full-page paintings which are just as engaging as his poetry. The chameleon, shown on a twig, is carrying an artist's palette and paintbrush; and the ants are shown in their underground tunnels which spell out "Ant City."


Another visual device Florian utilizes is a distinctive arrangement of print  similar to the method used in concrete poetry. In "The Anteater," the portion of the poem describing the creature's snout is printed to resemble that appendage; "The Grasshopper" tells us his "olive eyes are Oversized;" (p. 30) and we learn in "The Sloth" that it doesn't like to move, "it only likes to  p  a  u  s  e." (p. 28) All of these elements work together to make a volume of poetry that will delight all who read it. This is an excellent book to use for daily poetry reading in the classroom and a wonderful bedtime book as well.