Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Soup for Breakfast, Poems and Pictures by Calef Brown

New York Times Best Selling Author Calef Brown created a collection of playful, short-verse poems and pictures in Soup for Breakfast. Starting with the cover page, the various images are pieced together in a collage-like form and are depicted on a soup can, giving the reader a glimpse into what the book will entail. The subject of poems are an ecletic mix along with the complimentary silly images and lines. Brown's somewhat "folk art" style of illustrations will surely have you laughing out loud at times.

In the poem titled, Grandpa's Mustache, the nonsense verse and rhyming scheme is portrayed full-heartedly within this 16 line poem:

"Grandpa has nose hair-/it really grows there. /It also makes him snore,/but grandma doesn't care./She can't hear./Too much ear hair."

The opposite page of the poem is a full-page illustration of Grandpa with his mustache, while on the right hand corner of the page where the poem is written is a smaller image of Grandma with her over-embellished eair hair. Brown also incorporates unexpected rhymes and strange puns. For example, in the poem titled One to Ten (and BACK AGAIN), Brown writes:

"Five, six, snap your fingers./Think of something weird./Noodles in a haystack./A baby with a beard.

Seven, Eight, clap your hands./Think of something silly,/Chickens popping bubble wrap./Statues eating chili.

Nine, Ten, tap your feet./Think of something fun:/Mulling over foolish whims./Counting back to One."

This poem radiates the imaginitative creation of words that poetry can encompass. The unexpected word choice reflects the idea of how writing poetry can include letting go of boundaries and having fun while doing it. And while there are the fair share of these quirky yet adventurous poems, Brown also incorporates poems that contain a certain seriousness.

"Go Forth, /Young Moth./It takes strength/to lift up and stay aloft/with wings so soft.

Brown's featured poem as well as the title of the collection, Soup for Breakfast, celebrates the idea of individualism and satisfaction of the speaker with eating this peculiar, yet satisfying bowl of soup int he morning.

"I like soup for breakfast./That's the way I am./I'm not a fan of toast and jam/or griddlecakes/with eggs and ham,/or even Cream of Wheat./A bowl of cream of broccoli,/now there's a morning treat./Coffee drinkers often scoff,/but I just laugh/and sip my broth.

At the end of the story on it's final endpaper, Brown admits that he truly does enjoy soup for breakfast, and does his wife, Anissa.
These are a few of the reviews at the back of the book that I found to perfectly highlight the book's purpose;

  • "Silly it may be, but all the best kind, prompting the reader to see the world (slightly) askew and to delight in it." ~ Horn Book

  • "Words and pictures manage to be both clear and weird, an enjoyable mix." - Booklist

  • "The book celebrates language and wordplay with some real tongue-twisters, and the high-energy acryllic illustrations are just as engaging as the text. - Parents' Choice
Calef Brown has the distinct talent of writing and illustrating poems that allow readers to have fun with his humor, sarcasm, and witty undertones. Reading these poems aloud will surely have an audience's full attention, while inspiring those to bring out their own creatitivy and expression through their own poetry. I believe that sharing poetry colllections such as these will bring out your most reluctant readers and writers, while understanding the underlying message that not every poem falls into a particular mold, and that a distinguishable style sets a poem out from the rest.

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