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Once Upon A Tomb: Gravely Humorous Verses Hardcover – July 11, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 3-5–Lewis is back, this time with a quirky collection of humorous epitaphs. He honors departed farmers, food critics, lighthouse keepers, and many others. Some of the best are also the shortest, like the one for an underwear salesman, Our grief/Was brief. The longer verses sometimes reach the point of pure silliness, but all are delightfully irreverent. The font and type suggest engravings on a headstone and support the mood of the book. Bartram's surrealistic acrylic illustrations heighten the humor and, in some cases, clarify the meaning of Lewis's ubiquitous puns. A great selection for a Halloween read-aloud or reluctant poetry readers.–Donna Cardon, Provo City Library, UT
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Gr. 2-4. Proving himself to be anything but a grave man, Lewis offers 22 irreverent epitaphs and other mortuary verses, each of which is paired with a large, polished portrait or burial scene created in richly hued acrylics. Most of the sentiments are very short. "Underwear Salesman," for instance, runs but two lines ("Our grief / Was brief"); the "Fortune Teller" is even shorter ("Here lies"). Other entries allude to sad ends suffered by a schoolteacher (decapitated by a paper airplane), a dairy farmer ("Here is a lesson / for Larry LeGow: / NEVER SIT UNDER / A HEREFORD COW"), a food critic, a book editor, a cafeteria lady, a bully, and more. The last one celebrates a philosopher who finally "came to a conclusion." This rare look at the lighter side of death should elicit plenty of surprised giggles from young audiences. John Peters
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 6 - 9 years
  • Grade Level: 1 - 4
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick (July 11, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0763618373
  • ISBN-13: 978-0763618377
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 0.4 x 11.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,241,349 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

After nearly three decades as a professor of economics, J. Patrick Lewis turned to poetry. He is the author of more than 75 children's books including A Hippopotamusn't (1990), BoshBlobberBosh (1998), Please Bury Me in the Library (2004), First Dog (2009), Spot the Plot (2009), and The House (2009).

He has recently been named the third U.S. Children's Poet Laureate (2011-2013) by the Poetry Foundation.

His books have been published by Creative Editions, Knopf, Atheneum, Dial, Harcourt, Little, Brown, National Geographic, Chronicle Books, Scholastic, Candlewick, Schwartz & Wade, Holiday House, Sleeping Bear Press, Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press, Dawn Publications, and others. Gulls Hold Up the Sky, his first book of adult poems, was published by Laughing Fire Press (2010).

Pat's children's poems have also appeared in CRICKET (26 times), SPIDER, LADYBUG, CICADA, ODYSSEY, RANGER RICK, HIGHLIGHTS FOR CHILDREN, Ms. Magazine, YOUR BIG BACKYARD, CREATIVE CLASSROOM, STORYTIME, STORYWORKS, CHICKADEE, AHOY, LANGUAGE ARTS, JOURNAL OF CHILDREN'S LITERATURE, BOOKBIRD, READING TODAY and over 100 anthologies. He wrote the 1992 National Children's Book Week poem, printed on one million bookmarks and distributed nationally.

Lewis has received numerous awards from the American Library Association, the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, and others. He was the recipient of the 2010-11 National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Excellence in Children's Poetry Award, presented every two years.

WHERE I'LL BE NEXT--Schools, Bookstores, Conferences

October 14-16, 2011 Poetry Foundation--TED Lecture Chicago, Illiniois
October 23-25, 2011 NY State Reading Assn. Rye Brook, New York
October 28-31, 2011 Keystone State Reading Assn. Lancaster, Pennsylvania
November 5, 2011 Buckeye Book Fair Wooster, Ohio
November 8, 2011 Ashland University Ashland, Ohio
November 15-16, 2011 St. Joseph's College Rensselaer, Indiana
November 17-20, 2011 NCTE Convention Chicago, Illinois
December 1, 2010 Hillview Elementary Newark, Ohio
December 8, 2011 West Chester University (Dan Darigan) West Chester, PA
January 18, 2012 Richard Avenue Elementary Grove City, Ohio
January 24, 2012 Fouse Elementary Westerville, Ohio
March 1-3, 2012 Charlotte Huck Ch. Lit. Conference Redlands, California
April 3-5, 2012 Holland Hall Primary Tulsa, Oklahoma
April 12, 2012 Washington-Centerville Public Library Centerville, Ohio
April 13, 2012 Stingley Elementary Centerville, Ohio
April 17-25, 2012 Anglo-American School Moscow, Russia
April 29-May 2, 2012 IRA Convention Chicago, Illinois
May 10, 2012 Wynford Elementary Bucyrus, Ohio
March 22, 2013 OCTELA Conference Columbus, Ohio

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Linda Kissling on June 5, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Funny, funny, punny. This is a collection of 22 epitaphs for people of different walks of life - philoshopher, bully, beautician, etc. Love the mailman: "Returned to Sender" and Underwear salesman: "Our grief Was brief." The pictures are right on the money - humorous, but not over the top. The illustration of the team of morticians who are working on the beautician is priceless. She has a beauty mask on her face and cucumber slices on her eyes. Older students (and adults!) will better appreciate some of the subtler comments.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Butterscotch on April 26, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is a book of short poems all of which revolve around the subject of death. The short poems are ... very clever (ironic might also be a good word), and I figure many kids might not get the references. The illustrations are great; I would recommend this book for children who are interested in more `dark' humor.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Me on January 6, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I laughed all the way through this book, but young kids will probably not get some of the highbrow humor: "Postal worker.... return to sender."
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By melissa and julia on May 20, 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I got this for my youngest daughter and we both enjoy it. The epitaphs are small, funny poems about each persons death and it revolves around their jobs. My daughter loves the illustrations they are detailed and just as funny.
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By Steven4000 on January 20, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I got this book to read to my class room at halloween time. It is a lot of fun and a good way to get students interested in poetry.
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