Runny Babbit. By Shel Silverstein. HarperCollins. $22.99.
These are the books of the year. What year? It really doesn’t matter – they’re fabulous for any year, in any season. And now they’re packaged with CDs that let you hear the words and even some highly appropriate musical numbers. These winners are double winners now.
You would expect a book called Runny Babbit to be a silly book, but it is not – it’s a “billy sook.” It says so right there on the cover. Shel Silverstein had so many marvelous ideas over the years that it’s a joy to read or reread this final one, finished shortly before he died in 1999. The book simply involves switching letters – but it turns out to be not so simple after all. Here’s one short, eight-line poem, “Killy the Bid,” as an example: “Runny bought a howboy cat,/ His buns were polished gright./ He yelled, ‘Stand back! I’m Killy the Bid,/ And I’m fookin’ for a light!/ So give me your sold and gilver,/ And your sorses and haddles, too,/ Or else I’ll hold my creath and bry/ Like bids named Killy do.’” How marvelous is that? It’s not just that Silverstein swaps letters – it’s how he swaps them, so he sometimes creates one real word (“cat”) from another (“hat”); sometimes writes hilarious nonsense (“buns were polished gright,” which also includes a newly created real word); and tosses in the sort of silliness that would be funny even without the rearranged letters (“hold my creath and bry,” but it’s also funny to imagine a would-be-fierce outlaw saying “hold my breath and cry”). There’s wonderful stuff on every page here, about Runny’s family, or rather about how “Runny fad a hamily”; about how “Runny mets guddy” and “Runny hets gandsome”; and about Runny’s friends – for instance, “Calley At’s kittle litten” and the “skancin’ dunk.” Reading the poems and figuring out what’s going on is a huge part of the fun here – and so is looking at Silverstein’s typically marvelous illustrations – and so is listening to the included CD, in which Dennis Locorriere reads a dozen of the poems. This book-and-CD combo is a multimedia feast that should delight kids of all ages for years to come.
December 28, 2006
Subscribe to: Post Comments (Atom)
Post a Comment