Calef Brown plunged into the world of kid's books with Polka-Bats and Octopus Slacks: 14 Stories, published in 1998, which my kids received as a gift that year, and what a great gift it was. Be sure to visit polkabats.com for more about Calef's great books for kids and fun stuff. Brown's colorfully crazy illustrations are perfectly paired with his poems, which have titles like "Kansas City Octopus," "The Bathtub Driver" and "Sleeping Fruit." Calef Brown's work is reminiscent of the work of the band They Might Be Giants, if they were poets, not musicians, and, of course, if they could illustrate their own work...
Brown has a way with an absurd rhyme and, as my father-in-law inscribed in the copy of Polka-Bats he gave to my kids, Brown's books will introduce you to the "fun and mystery of words!" In his book, Tippintown: A Guided Tour, Brown takes you through a town, in rhyming verse, of course! From the top of Tippinoggin Mountain to a ride in the triple-decker "triple canoe" to the rare and amazing "Assortment Tree" who's
Leaves and shoots
and flowers and fruits
are various sizes and shapes.
See the luscious artichokes
and mulitflavored grapes.
Tippintown is definitely worth the visit. As the author's note says, "Calef Brown began his career as a tour guide at an early age, when he discovered the simple joy of pointing things out."
Here is a taste of Calef Brown's poetic sensibility...
Funky Snowman loves to dance.
You'd think he wouldn't have much chance
without two legs
or even pants
Does that stop Funky Snowman?
Turn up the music with the disco beat,
when you're in the groove, you don't need feet
Crowds come out and fill the street.
Kick it, Funky Snowman!
From Polka-Bats and Octopus Slacks
Calef Brown also collaborated with author John Harris, as well as many other authors, to create Greece! Rome! Monsters! and Pop-Up Aesop., which are definitely worth checking out, especially with the current craze for Greek Mythology that is going on.