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Oddhopper Opera: A Bug's Garden of Verses
     

Oddhopper Opera: A Bug's Garden of Verses

by Kurt Cyrus
 

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Put an ear to the ground for the clicking, popping, snapping music of this garden grown wild. In verse as witty as it is buggy, Kurt Cyrus conducts a chirruping chorus of voices great and small. From a stinkbug trying (and failing) to hide itself to a cicada's struggle to escape its own skin to an ant's marathon dinner march and a frog's identity crisis, here is a

Overview

Put an ear to the ground for the clicking, popping, snapping music of this garden grown wild. In verse as witty as it is buggy, Kurt Cyrus conducts a chirruping chorus of voices great and small. From a stinkbug trying (and failing) to hide itself to a cicada's struggle to escape its own skin to an ant's marathon dinner march and a frog's identity crisis, here is a garden teeming with down-to-earth fun for readers of every species-no matter how many legs they have! 9-3/4 X 9-3/4. Full-color illustrations

Author Biography: Kurt Cyrus is the illustrator of several picture books, including two he also wrote. He lives in Eugene, Oregon.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Bold, inventive artwork lends high spirits to Cyrus's (Slow Train to Oxmox) down-and-dirty view of a garden. Full-bleed pictures share the eye-popping scale and dimensionality of David Kirk's Miss Spider books, but the palette is realistic and the action reflects bug behavior. At first the impression is one of enthusiastic chaos. Poems appear without titles but have different narrators; occasionally, words loop around the pages like vines. But ample visual and verbal clues spell out distinct story lines and a temporal setting, progressing from summer to autumn. Early on, snails begin a race ("Give them a holler, a nod, and a nudge..../ Give them a minute, and see if they budge"); they reappear on subsequent spreads until, on the final page, Mrs. Molasses wins--a Pyrrhic victory, as an overripe tomato then falls on top of her ("SPLAT!/ That's that," the book concludes). One standout spread shows what appears to be a branch surrounded by a snake, but a closer look reveals a Katydid atop a walkingstick. Running gags include an overturned beetle who struggles to right himself; and ants who march along, shouting "BOINK" as they bump heads (a joke for budding entomologists who are aware that ants touch antennae to communicate). Many kids will like the gross-out factor in the attention paid to dung beetles as they feast; vegetables as they rot; bugs being consumed; etc. Throughout the seasons, this volume sustains its gleeful bounce. Ages 5-10. (Apr.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
The bright and boldly illustrated pages give a bugs eye view of the bustling life above and below the ground in this garden setting. Creepy crawly insects in a variety of colors and shapes slither and crawl and even fly as they eat the vegetation or each other. Beetles gather balls of dung to feed to their young, a millipede lays a hundred eggs, and the spider weaves a beautiful web hoping to ensnare some unsuspecting bug. Some of the more amusing lines include the one about a stinkbug trying to hide—"Only trouble is...It's never any secret where a stinkbug is." The grossness will certainly appeal to a certain age group and the ending illustration with its red tomato hitting the ground is sure to elicit a few squeals of delight. Not the greatest poetry but plenty of wordplay, puns and just plain fun. 2001, Harcourt, . Ages 5 to 8. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot
School Library Journal
Gr 2-4-"Once upon a garden rotten,/Twice forlorn and half forgotten-," a variety of beetles, earwigs, and other earth dwellers hid beneath the fetid vegetables, waiting for warmer weather. With a rhyming text and bug's-eye views of the towering vegetation, Cyrus follows insects, snails, frogs, and a snake through their spring awakening and summer foraging. Some of the animals eat the garden plants, some eat other creatures, and then there are the dung beetles: "`Papa, O Papa Bug, what will we eat?'/`It's gummy, it's yummy, it's dung! What a treat.'" The exaggerated size of many of the insects and ocher tones in the crowded pages lend a surreal quality to the scenes. The rolling rhyme features running accounts of several characters. Bummer Beetle is trapped on his back until the odor of Stinkbug finally motivates him to struggle upright. The snails have a race. "Give them a holler, a nod, and a nudge-/Give them a minute, and see if they budge." The garden is a messy melange, and the tone is one of mocking humor. In the end, as fall winds down the eating season, the snake makes a crunchy "munchie" of one of the snails, and a ripe tomato hits the ground, "SPLAT!/That's that." The slapstick account of the seasons runs a bit thin, but some children will enjoy the gross elements of slime and mold and the bug-eat-bug world.-Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Cyrus (The Mousery, 2000, etc.) promises bugs and verses, and delivers plenty of both in this ground-level view of a vegetable garden's teeming residents. Depicting every creature from beetles, flies, snails, and spiders to the occasional snake ("Through the tangle, softly gliding, / Comes a long, long tummy sliding . . . ") or bird with delicious realism, he introduces such appealing characters as a confused young frog who wonders where his tail went, Mama Pitter-Patter-Pede with her "half a hundred legs," and a squad of industrious dung beetles: " 'Papa, O Papa Bug, what will we eat?' / 'It's gummy, it's yummy, it's dung! What a treat.' " The poems are distinct but untitled, connected both by common characters and by such running jokes as a season-long snail race, and a string of woozy ants that bonk heads to communicate. With no sacrifice of legibility, the page design is inventive too, with poems and pictures ingeniously wrapped together and occasional lines of text snaking along stems or through ground litter. Two-legged fans of Douglas Florian's Insectlopedia (1998) and J. Patrick Lewis's The Little Buggers (1998) will scurry after this verbal and visual tour-de-force. (Poetry. 7-10)

From the Publisher

"[A] verbal and visual tour-de-force."--Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"This is a collection of poems that bug-loving boys and girls as well as their teachers and librarians will share with great satisfaction."--Library Talk (starred review)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780152022051
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
04/28/2001
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
32
Product dimensions:
9.75(w) x 9.75(h) x (d)
Age Range:
6 - 9 Years

Meet the Author


KURT CYRUS is the illustrator of M. T. Anderson's Whales on Stilts, and The Clue of the Linoleum Lederhosen. He lives in Cottage Grove, Oregon.

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