The World's Greatest: Poems

Overview

Who has kissed the most cobras? Eaten the most live scorpions? Sailed highest on a skateboard? Been stuck the longest in an elevator? These and 21 other vexing superlatives are the subject matter of this zany collection of verse by one of America's most well-loved poets, J. Patrick Lewis. Comic illustrations by Keith Graves make this the funniest, wackiest, rhyming-est book on the shelf.

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Overview

Who has kissed the most cobras? Eaten the most live scorpions? Sailed highest on a skateboard? Been stuck the longest in an elevator? These and 21 other vexing superlatives are the subject matter of this zany collection of verse by one of America's most well-loved poets, J. Patrick Lewis. Comic illustrations by Keith Graves make this the funniest, wackiest, rhyming-est book on the shelf.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This sprightly, clever collection....will charm children..." School Library Journal, April 2008

"...not a bad way for kids to spend an afternoon-and it might send them to Guinness to think up their own." —Kirkus Reviews, March 15 2008

Julie Just
This is a nice conversation starter for the jaded modern child…
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

With a clever premise-poems about the world's greatest something or other-Lewis (A World of Wonders : Geographic Travels in Verse and Rhyme ) and Graves (Frank Was a Monster Who Wanted to Dance ) assemble a poetry volume sure to appeal to assiduous readers of Guinness World Record books. Regrettably, the poems themselves are not always as intriguing as the oddball records they describe. Sometimes Lewis's meter stumbles, or his grasp on a particular topic weakens, but the poems often contain a sly rhyme or an idea that will grab the target audience, as in these words about an articulate canary that begins to "mutter, sputter/ Whenever he ate pnnnut bttttr." Each poem lists the record associated with it; for example, "The Tallest Roller Coaster" is prefaced with the name, location and height of the actual attraction, after which Lewis describes the sensation of riding it ("You hold your breath,/ You lose your nerve,/ You're scared to death/ At every curve"). Graves's illustrations, like the best caricatures, match the wacky tone of the poems, as in "The Kookiest Hat" (" 'A fried-egg hat repels the rain,'/ Was what the man replied,/ 'Because, my dear, I always wear/ It on the sunny side' "). Ages 5-9. (Apr.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Children's Literature - Uma Krishnaswami
From the author of A Hippopotamusn't, here is a picture book of delicious nonsense poems written in response to items from the Guinness World Records. A better spark for nonsense verse would be hard to imagine. Beginning with "The Kookiest Hat" and ending with "The Highest Air on a Skateboard," the poems cover amusing and arresting extremes of diet, endurance, accident and intent, while simultaneously exploring a variety of poetic forms. An acrostic poem, a limerick, list poems and concrete poems are all featured in this collection, in addition to traditional rhyming verse forms, a few that experiment with quirky enjambed lines and two that could pass for poems in two voices. Among them are "The Longest Time a Message Was in a Bottle at Sea," "The Most Kisses," "The Most Plates Spinning," "The Longest Time Stuck in an Elevator" and "The Crookedest Building." The latter not surprisingly is the Leaning Tower of Pisa, rendered in a concrete poem whose effectiveness depends on creative lineation and one near-rhyme, both of which could have fallen to pieces in less capable hands but here, against all logic, somehow work. While the forms and tone are quite in the tradition of Ogden Nash and Edward Lear, some of the poems seem timeless while others have a distinctly contemporary touch. All are whimsical and funny, well metered and precisely rhymed. Young readers will enjoy this poetic homage to the highly eccentric accomplishments memorialized here. The 25 poems are illustrated in breezy acrylic and colored pencil art that perfectly complements both the poems themselves and the larger theme they bring to the page. Reviewer: Uma Krishnaswami
School Library Journal

Gr 1-4- This sprightly, clever collection centers on facts found in various editions of the "Guinness Book of Records." Two poems share the first page: "The Kookiest Hat" and "The Shortest Street." The facing page shows a man with an elongated arm holding a fried egg over his head sunny side up as he walks down Elgin Street, which is only 17 feet long. "The Largest Mantle of Bees" is about a man who is covered with more than 340,000 bees; his caricatured eyes and mouth peek through a mass of insects. Another man kissed 10,504 people in 8 hours; he is shown wearing a blue turban, with flames rising up from his puckered lips. The droll, distinct illustrations created using acrylic paint and colored pencils capture perfectly the humor and vigor of the text. This attractive book is saturated with color and will charm children who understand its adroit wordplay. The hyperbolic title hints of the boasts within, like "The Most Cobras Kissed Consecutively" or "The Longest Time a Human Remained Standing," and the colorful visual interpretations will entice browsers.-Kirsten Cutler, Sonoma County Library, CA

Kirkus Reviews
This is not, as a quick glance at the title might suggest, an attempt to anthologize the best poems ever written, thank goodness. It is, instead, a goofy celebration of (mostly) equally zany world records. Thus, readers will enjoy "The Most Plates Spinning," which typographically sets the ascending count of spinning plates off from those intermediate discs that threaten to fall; "The Tallest Christmas Tree," which presents them with a star-topped shaped poem; and "The Longest Traffic Jam," which consists of a string of single-word lines arranged in rhyming couplets. Graves's bright illustrations provide agreeably silly accompaniment, at their best juxtaposing two separate poems into one double-page whole: A giant curve of a wave ("The Longest Time a Message Was in a Bottle at Sea") threatens to overwhelm a roller coaster so high its apex peaks above the page ("The Tallest Roller Coaster"). Not all the spreads equal this level of cleverness, and it's overall a pretty slim premise, but it's not a bad way for kids to spend an afternoon-and it might send them to Guinness to think up their own. (Poetry. 6-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780811851305
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books LLC
  • Publication date: 1/3/2008
  • Pages: 36
  • Age range: 5 - 9 Years
  • Product dimensions: 7.75 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

J. Patrick Lewis is the award-winning author of more than 55 books for young people. His poetry and nonsense verse have appeared in dozens of magazines and more than 70 anthologies, and he is a contributor of children's book reviews for the New York Times. He lives in Ohio.

Keith Graves is the author-illustrator of several books for children including Frank Was a Monster Who Wanted to Dance and Pet Boy. He lives in Texas.

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