________________ CM . . . . Volume XIII Number 11 . . . .January 19, 2007


Baaaad Animals.

Tiffany Stone. Illustrated by Christina Leist.
Vancouver, BC: Tradewind Books, 2006.
64 pp., pbk., $9.95.
ISBN 978-1-896580-36-4.

Subject Heading:
Animals-Juvenile poetry.

Preschool-grade 5 / Ages 4-10.

Review by Dave Jenkinson.

*** /4




I promise not to eat you,
raw or roasted on a fire.


You shouldn't have believed me.
Every lion is a liar.


Tiffany Stone has assembled 32 rollickingly funny themed poems which range in length from four to 24 lines and that feature contemporary and historic animals and insects. While many of the poems' critters are bad in a variety of ways, the title refers specifically to some sheep that give us nightmares as opposed to lulling us to sleep. As readers or listeners, youngsters will meet such animals as clumsy tyrannosaur, a shark with halitosis, a zebra that's tired of wearing stripes every day, a skunk that's lost its stink, a "classy" dog that drinks from the toilet using a straw, plus giraffes that live in the city disguised as construction cranes. One of the animals isn't even a real animal. In "I'm Tired of Being a Teddy," a teddy bear indicates its boredom at being cuddled, carried about and being good, but admits "I'm too lazy to learn to be bad." The unexpected, plus plays on words, make for lots of fun reading.

     Not every poem is told from the creature's perspective, and so in "My Cat Got into the Peanut Butter," readers meet a young cat owner who regrets teaching her/his cat how to open jars, not because the cat actually eats the peanut butter, but because it likes to make a mess. This cat is not the only mess-maker. In "When Pigs Make Pancakes," readers discover that the pigs' culinary skills are not utilized because they actually want to eat pancakes. Rather, they love the mess they can make, especially when its's slathered in syrup.

internal art      Stone offers her readers with moments of recognition. Those children who vehemently dislike their given names might want to join "Our Club" whose members include such animals as the bongo, numbat and zebu, all of whom want to jail those who gave them such weird names. The reader with numerous siblings may be able to identify with the little seahorse who already has "seven hundred sisters and a thousand brothers, too," and then notices that "Daddy's belly's getting big," and cries out, "Oh, I wish I was an ONLY CHILD with my very own tank in the zoo." As a Winnipegger, I must admit to having little sympathy for the narrator of the last poem, "Goodnight," who tells his fellow mosquitoes to "be careful of humans with swatters," and I mentally applauded the poems's and the book's final word - SPLAT!

      The layout of Baaaad Animals offers a great deal of variety. Sometimes a pair of facing pages contain two poems or one poem may spread across the pair of pages. Leist's cartoon-like large pen and ink drawings, often full-page, superbly tie the book together, and the sheep's hijinks that begin on the book's opening pages conclude on the volume's closing pages. In between, her art wonderfully captures the collection's comic mood.

      Even kids who say they don't like poetry will change their minds when they read or hear this collection.

Highly Recommended.

Dave Jenkinson teaches courses in children's and YA literature at the Faculty of Education, the University of Manitoba.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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ISSN 1201-9364
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