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