If You Were a Chocolate Mustache

J. Patrick Lewis
In this tasty collection, J. Patrick Lewis displays the breadth and depth of his talent, giving readers of any and every sensibility something to make them laugh out loud. He stirs humor into an astonishing array of subjects—from animals to school to dragons to food. And he delivers them in a remarkable variety of forms, including riddles, limericks, nonsense rhymes, parodies, anagrams, story poems, haiku, and more. Baked in Lewis’s brilliant imagination and sprinkled with Matthew Cordell’s warm, witty drawings, the result is a collection to delight the taste buds.

Reviews

Reviewed: 2019-03-15

If You Were a Chocolate Mustache is an individual poet compilation by J. Patrick Lewis, and includes illustrations by Matthew Cordell. Though this book lacks a narrative, that does not mean that it lacks unifying elements. Every bit of this collection seeks a laugh and it succeeds. Lewis' style is whimsical. He plays with the words on the page. I am reminded of playing with stuffed animals as a child. As I directed my toys to act out my plays, so does Lewis direct his words. His use of onomatopoeia and spacing make his poems prime real estate for read alouds in the classroom, home or at the library. The poem, "Dragon Dryer" is a great example of this. "It thumps against the Washer/ Monster -- blam, blam, blam!/The Dragon Dryer's rocking/ On its heels and toes/ So hard I think it must be/ Having breakfast, Toastie Clothes." This poem also stands as an example of Lewis' rhythm and rhyming style. Every poem has a distinct bounce that will quickly engage children as well as aid in memorization and recitation. When read aloud, the reader should be careful to enunciate, the rhythm comes so naturally that an unfamiliar reader may trip over some words in an effort to keep on beat. Besides the general tone of whimsy, there is another unifying factor, that of Cordell's illustrations. These simple ink drawings are literal representations of Lewis' words and disregard most subtext, adding to the nonsensical attitude. They fit together so well, it is as if Lewis and Cordell are school friends creating these humorous masterpieces in the back of a classroom. The recommended age group for this book is 3rd through 6th grade, but I have a difficult time putting an upper age limit on poetry. I think that older students would have fun with some of these poems if used as a poetry break in an English class or even for read aloud practice. It's no fun going straight to Shakespeare, but having the chance to learn about the elements of recitation from something fun, like this, will help students to enjoy poetry as a whole.

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