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Polkabats and Octopus Slacks: 14 Stories Paperback – April 4, 2005

4.6 out of 5 stars 65 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Author and illustrator Calef Brown is a blue elephant, we're told on the back flap of the book, and we half-believe it, judging from this exuberant, unforgettable collection of 14 ultra-hip rhyming stories about everything from sleeping fruit to a funky--and we mean funky--snowman. In comical folk-art paintings, bathed in truly delicious colors, we meet Ed. "Introducing Ed, / with cherries on his head. / He says, 'I like the color,' / So all his stuff is red..." One odd hamlet is described like this: "Clementown is greenish, / the people tall and leanish, / the dogs bark very loudish, / but not because they're meanish." Brown sings the praises of "Snails" as well: "...they don't make threats, / they don't eat meat, / they don't place bets, / they almost always pay their debts / and never puff on cigarettes." These poems are as nonsensical as Edward Lear's, but clearly for modern hipster kids, and, well, adults, too. (Click to see a sample spread. Illustrations © 1998 by Calef Brown.) (All ages) --Karin Snelson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

HWith ebullient Dixieland/ragtime jazz as accompaniment, Pinkwater, children's book author and radio personality, gleefully performs Brown's 14 hip and funny story-poems. An on-air rave about this book by Pinkwater during his children's book segment on National Public Radio's Weekend Edition Saturday back in 1998 helped put the title on the map (and obviously gave Pinkwater an edge when it came time to cast this audio production). Listeners can't help hearing Pinkwater's clear appreciation of the silly subject matter; at times he seems on the verge of giggling, reading lines like "Funky Snowman loves to dance./ You'd think he wouldn't have much chance/ without two legs/ or even pants.... Kick it, Funky Snowman!" Out-of-the-ordinary images abound, from a "tightrope traffic jam" of circus performers on Highwire 66 to the Bathtub Driver and his three-legged duck and Georgie Spider, pie baker extraordinaire. A great title for National Poetry Month, or any time. Ages 4-8.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 7 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 700 (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 32 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (April 4, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618111298
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618111299
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.1 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #165,562 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By David Eshaghpour on October 29, 2007
Format: Paperback
I heard Daniel Pinkwater and Scott Simon review this book and read it together on NPR years ago and I simply had to have it. I have subesequently bought all of Mr. Brown's other books. Delightful and entertaining. My 3 year old loves them all.
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Format: Hardcover
Anytime I look for a new book for my daughter, I always try to find something that I'll like too--because if she likes it, you know I'll be reading it to her several hundred times! Thankfully, "Polkabats and Octopus Slacks" is one of those books.
I don't know what I like more...the folk-art illustrations or the silly poems. Calef Brown captures the whimsy of Shel Silverstein's "Where the Sidewalk Ends," with poems that are easy to memorize and fun to recite. This book became a bedtime favorite at our house in record time!
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By A Customer on September 25, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I am a third year college student and recently celebrated by 19th birthday. When my good friend handed me my gift and I tore apart the colorful wrapping paper to find an even more colorful children's book, I was surprised to say the least. A children's book called Polkabats and Octopus Slacks is not your typical birthday present for a 19 year old. However, I'd have to say it is the best gift I've received, possibly for any of my birthdays. It has offered endless enjoyment... a silly stress-reliever for myself as well as a great entertainment device for visitors. The vibrantly colored illustrations are unique and each time you look through the book, you find more and more interesting details about each illustration. My favorite poems are Kansas City Octopus, Ed, Funky Snowman, and Polkabats. This will certainly remain on my list of all-time favorite books, and will be passed down to my children and theirs. Silly children's books... one of life's most simple, wonderful pleasures.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is f-u-n-k-y. It is great for kids of all ages.
My first and second grade students beg me to read it. They call out requests for their favorites. They beg me to read just one more even though they know all of the words. The best thing is that my struggling readers are able to pick up the book and read it. This is the best kids poetry of all time.
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By A Customer on June 20, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I read this book with great delight at a friends house and ordered 5 the next day. One for my son who at the age of 3 understands that silly is a good thing ... and the rest for baby gifts. Any baby raised on PolkaBats and Octopus Slacks is sure to be well-adjusted and have a great sense of humor. It's a real pleasure to the eyes, ears and soul! "Kick it funky snowguys and gals!"
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Format: Hardcover
Whenever I pick up this book to read to my 3-year-old, she makes me read the whole thing (14 stories). It's a good thing they're so much fun. My older child likes them too.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was a gift for my six year old nephews. They loved the silly rhymes and illustrations. It was a big hit, and I would recommend this book to anyone with children. It's so important to read to your kids and instill a love of reading from early on.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I loved this book. I got it because it was by a sometime collaborator with author Daniel Pinkwater, and it did not disappoint. As stories, they are quite short, but lovely in poetry form. The illustrations are cool looking. I used these as bedtime stories for my daughter and she loved them as much as I did, often asking me to read it again. It's a short book, but well worth it. The characters are original and the situations unique. This is one of the least cliche books I've read. It's a bit eccentric, but all the better for it. I will definitely get more books by Calef Brown. These are keepers that will survive long after my kids grow up. This is the kind of stuff you want to read more than once.
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