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Underwear Salesman Hardcover – March 10, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
In this handy guide/ (For children overqualified/ For boring jobs), Lewis (Doodle Dandies) and the sublime Bloch (Butterflies in My Stomach) catalogue some of the more esoteric professions. There's the crossword puzzle maker (I make up clues for/ 'Olive' (green), / 'Lentil or garbanzo' (bean) and the titular specialty haberdasher (You wear them briefly/ And in short,/ I sell them chiefly/ For support); the center spread salutes the marathon runner with a poem set into the map of a course. Lewis deserves applause for his sophisticated wordplay and his willingness to push readers in terms of poetic conceits: anyone who attempts to explain to kids what a philosopher does—in verse, no less—deserves a paean himself. It's a shame, then, that poems that start out so promisingly often run out of steam and wrap up with weak jokes (a pet groomer bemoans a customer who forgets toupee; a plumber works in Inside The Twoilet zone). Bloch's wonderful digital collages save the day: his signature combination of piquant ink doodles and witty found objects lends elegant playfulness to every page. Ages 7–10. (Mar.)
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Puns are everywhere in this playful, rhyming survey of jobs, and the collage illustrations extend the verbal fun with wry, literal images, from the butcher named Sloppy Joe to an underwear salesman, whose sales pitch includes instructions to wear his garments “briefly.” The sounds of the words will appeal to grade-schoolers, and so will the visuals, from the double-page spread of the marathon runner in the city streets (“Motivation / Perspiration / Long duration”) to the view of the subway driver as “a sixty-mile-an-hour mole” who worms his way underground. Then there is the fancy gymnast who tries for a triple-handspring somersault and ends up “very horizontal.” Kids will get the message that comes from these scenes of adults at work: grown-up life is fun, sometimes, but there is “no need to hurry” to get there. Grades 2-5. --Hazel Rochman
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This wonderfully creative book stands apart from other books about jobs not only because the ideas are completely communicated through verse, but also because the art work embraces the poetry in an entirely different way on every page. The Underwear Salesman gets high marks for using humor and rich artistic content to tell children about some of the jobs that may await them in the future.