Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Last Laughs by Jane Yolen and J. Patrick Lewis, illustrated by Jeffrey Stewart Timmins

I did a double-take when I first pulled this out of the envelope. I couldn't believe it could actually be...

Oh yeah, it is.

"Double-Crossed Newt
Little newt,
so small,
so fine,
so squashed
the crossing

This charming poem is accompanied by a bloodily distorted lizard carcass, smeared across the road.
"Eww" I thought. I took it over to show my friend, Sara the Librarian. As we read the poems, we found ourselves laughing despite the gruesome, gross, and just plain weird content. Because they're, well, funny.

From "R.I.P. (Really Inattentive Piranha)" to "An Infirm Worm" these poems make the reader glance over her shoulder and then snicker. They're irreverent, ghoulish, and hilarious.

Jeffrey Timmins' illustrations are the perfect fit. Misty in hues of gray, brown, and splattered blood red, he adds even more naughty detail. A cremation urn next to milk bottles, the truck that meanders through the book collecting corpses along the way, the misty tombstones on the hill, they all fit the poems perfectly.

Now, will I actually put this on my library shelves? Well...I was thinking probably not. Middle schoolers would find it hilarious, but I have no section for nonfiction for that age group. While a few younger children might find it funny, especially fans of Adam Rex, the chances of someone picking it up and being horrified or really upset (I'm thinking of that illustration in the horse cartoon where the sheep is pooping into the river and the horse is drinking it) are pretty high. It's funny, but I have plenty of funny books. If I want something a little weird and pushing the envelope there's always Adam Rex, who isn't such a complete gross fest.

However, after I showed it to most of the librarians and saw how much fun they had with it I thought..why not put it in the teen nonfiction section! So, Last Laughs in all it's gruesome glory will be present in our library.

Verdict: If you have a larger population with more diverse tastes it would probably work in the 4-6 grade age range recommended by SLJ. I don't know that I would purchase it, but since I have a review copy I will put it out for the teens to snicker over.

ISBN: 9781580892605; Published July 2012 by Charlesbridge, Review copy provided by publisher through Raab Associates

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