How awful is this green-haired, one-eyed ogre? So awful his name is Awful Ogre. Fortunately, he takes some time out of his awfully busy ogre schedule to describe his routine, poem by poem, from the moment his pet rattlesnake awakens him to a touching bedtime scene--as rhythmic and tender as Goodnight Moon
, but with scorpions and cacti. As it turns out, the ogre has many delightful hobbies, from dancing ("I dance with abandon, / Bravura, and zest, / I carom off boulders / And beat on my chest") to singing "stirring ogre melodies" to bone collecting to boasting to watching TV. He is particularly proud of his centuries-old garden:
Because of my ramshackle patches
Where scrofulous weeds rule unchecked,
I've earned from the trolls and the goblins
A measure of grudging respect.
Jack Prelutsky, creator of more than 30 books of verse, is clearly in his element here, though he claims that "Any resemblance between Awful Ogre and the poet is purely coincidental." And, Paul O. Zelinsky, who received the 1998 Caldecott Medal for Rapunzel
explodes into zany genius in this gruesomely gorgeous picture book, perfect for any 8-year-old boy in the peak of his giddy gross-out phase. We could spend hours scouring the pages for tiny details, lovingly etched by Zelinsky, from a tiny protesting man in a fish food container next to a piranha to the artful steam above the ogre's bowl of scream of wheat. This book is a masterpiece. He may smell of weasel grease, drink gargoyle bile, eat scrambled legs, and grow carnivorous roses, but Awful Ogre is a friend your kids won't mind having. (Ages 6 and older) --Karin Snelson>
From Publishers Weekly
relutsky uncorks his latest collection of light verse, a divinely wretched celebration of subversity. Every detail of Awful Ogre's day offers possibility for gross-outs, from sunup ("I flick aside the lizard/ Clinging grimly to my chin,/ And now I feel I'm ready/ For my morning to begin") to sundown (a sly swat at Goodnight Moon as Awful Ogre drifts off to sleep with "Good night to furtive spiders/ That lurk in murky wells./ Good night to loathsome vermin/ With nauseating smells"). Whether he's writing a love letter to an ogress ("I long for the sight/ Of your craggy gray face,/ The might of your bone-breaking,/ Painful embrace") or puttering in the garden ("I'm growing carnivorous roses/ And oceans of overblown mold"), Awful Ogre proves an ideal agent for Prelutsky's oversize humor. Switching gears from the lushness of his Caldecott-winning Rapunzel, repeat collaborator Zelinsky presents Awful Ogre as a grotesque but goofy innocent, sillier than he is sinister. Awful may have only one eye and green hair, and a skunk might indeed curl up in his left nostril, yet he has a childlike sweetness as he dances (shown in a series of a dozen panels) or snuggles up in bed with his cactus. A virtuoso performance by two master funny-bone-ticklers. Ages 6-up.
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