Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Last Laughs: Animal Epitaphs

Last Laughs: Animal Epitaphs

J. Patrick Lewis , Jane Yolen
Illustrator:  Jeffrey Stewart Timmins 
Poetry Picture Book
For ages 7 to 9
Charlesbridge, 2012   ISBN: 978-1580892605

Here we are at Amen Creature Corners, a cemetery where animals, not humans, are buried. It is true that “beasties” come here to cry over the graves of their friends and loved ones, but they are also here to have “one last laugh” courtesy of the dearly department. In this cemetery “it’s not / all gloom and doom / that’s written / once upon a tomb.”

Actually, many of the words on the gravestones are funny, in a rather irreverent way. We read about how Rowdy Rooster made the mistake of being so “cocky” that he dared to head-butt a car. He is one of many animals who seemed to have lacked a sense of self preservation. There is the moth who “lived by the fire / and died by the flame,” and the woodpecker who pecked a tree limb one to many times with disastrous results.

Then were those who were just too sure of themselves. There was a swordfish who fought a shark, and lost the battle, and a piranha who found out too late that it had the “second-sharpest / teeth in the river.”

Full of clever word play and often decidedly macabre humor, these poetical animal epitaphs will tickle the fancy of readers who like their poetry served up dark.