cover image DIRTY LAUNDRY PILE: Poems in Different Voices

DIRTY LAUNDRY PILE: Poems in Different Voices

Paul B. Janeczko, , illus. by Melissa Sweet. . HarperCollins, $15.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-688-16251-1

These well-chosen verses represent what Janeczko (Very Best [Almost] Friends) calls "persona or mask poems"—each written in the voice of an object or animal. Bobbi Katz's washing machine sings its washing songs—"Blub-blub-a-dubba"—while Patricia Hubbell's vacuum cleaner complains, "I swallow twigs./ I slurp dead bugs," and finally threatens, "I think I'll swallow you today!" Informally organized around various topics, the volume begins with poems about wind and weather and ends with works about insects and animals. For the most part, the poems, including selections by Douglas Florian, Jane Yolen and Karla Kuskin, are effectively matched by Sweet's (Bat Jamboree) playful and cartoony watercolors. The light mood of the illustrations, however, jars with slightly darker poems. In Nina Nyhart's "Scarecrow Dreams," for example, five crows perch on a wary scarecrow's shoulder as he describes convincing the farmer to put away his gun and then feels "a step on my shoulder,/ the first peck in my eye." Nonetheless, this collection contains well-crafted poetry that surprises with its deft wordplay and original points of view. All ages. (June)