Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Poem Depot: Aisles of Smiles

Poem Depot: Aisles of Smiles

Douglas Florian
For ages 6 to 8
Penguin, 2014   ISBN: 978-0803740426

Writers, painters, and other creative people know that the everyday lives of people (and animals) can provide them with a bottomless source of material. People, the things they do, and the things they care about are so interesting, and one does not need to seek out things that are exotic or fantastical to find inspiration for a story or a work of art. Poets also know that the things we consider mundane can provide material for poems.

   For this collection Douglas Florian has written poems that explore commonplace things and situations. We are invited to visit his “Poem Depot” where there are “smiles in the aisles.” His “store” is packed with poems that are “full of cheer,” and lashings of “whimsy” and “wit.”

   Somehow Douglas finds way to add humor to every single one of his poems. Sometimes the humor is overt, while at other times a clever punchline adds that little touch that will bring forth a smile. For example in Scared he tells us about how scared he is of “lions, tigers, and bears,” of climbing mountains and other similarly perilous pursuits. He wraps up by mentioning that what scares him most of all is the science test that he is going to have to do on Thursday.

  Similarly, in Deep Sleep, the ending is the place where the humor in the poem lies. The narrator tells us that he slept so deeply that he was asleep for sixty years. When he wakes up the bed was broken and weeds were growing out of his ears. Readers will expect to hear that he did something exciting after this long sleep, but instead the narrator tell us that he went “back to bed.”

   As they turn the pages, readers can read about a wrinkly elephant, a bad hair day, mammoths, a pet dragon, a pet owl, meat loaf, a genie’s chair and so much more.  They can dip into the book at will, and can be sure that what they will find will make them smile and hanker for more.