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Deidre's Book Reviews

Beast Feast
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Florian, Douglas. 1994. BEAST FEAST. San Diego: Harcourt Brace and Company.

             ISBN: 0-15-295178-4

 

Beast Feast is a book of collected humorous poems about a walrus, barracuda, anteater, boa, lobster, chameleon, rhea, ant, whale, pigeon, armadillo, sloth, grasshopper, camel, caterpillar, toad, bat, firefly, kangaroo, mole, and kiwi.  Each individual poem describes an animal, insect, or mammal.

 

The author and illustrator are very clever in the way he teaches the reader of the book about the featured creatures by using a constant rhythm.  The book is packed with rhyme.  In fact, every line rhymes with another, which categorizes Beast Feast as a book of limericks.  For example, ruder is used to rhyme and describe a barracuda.  As with most poems, this book of poems is meant to be read aloud.

 

The poem, “The Walrus,” is only one verse long with four lines.  The author uses alliterations like, “salty sea,” and “walrus walrusty” to describe the walrus.  The accompanying illustration depicts a walrus with its legs crossed, sitting upright in an armchair.  The expression on the walrus’s face makes it look uptight or “walrusty” as Florian puts it.  Allusions (very descriptive words) are used to describe the animals.  In the poem about chameleons, the author writes, “leafy greens,” “mousy browns,” “sticky tongue,” and “risky reptilian.”  In “The Ants” poem, ants are called, “scantily.”

 

It is the arrangement and flow of the words that help make the poem, “The Anteater,” so interesting to its readers.  The words of the first line are in a staircase position, flowing diagonally down the page.  The line’s shape resembles an anteater’s snout, which is what the line is used to describe.  In the whale’s poem, the letters of the word “spew” are arranged on the page as if they are being spewed out of the whale’s spout.  The poem about the sloth spells out the word “pause” one letter at a time.  To help describe the size of the grasshopper’s eyes, the letters in the word “oversized” are bigger than the rest of the words in the poem, “The Grasshopper.”  Creatively, the author has placed the words, “upside down” actually upside down in the poem about bats.

 

Some words are combined to describe the animals and their habits.  The ants’ ability to build underground tunnels is called “ant antiquity,” and the kangaroo’s pouch is named a “kangaroom.” 

 

In all of the pictures, the illustrator has mastered complementing and representing the text.  Glasses are featured on the mole (the poem discusses the fact that the mole is virtually blind).  An electrical cord is drawn on the firefly to compliment the poem, where the firefly lights blinking on and off, without the need of batteries, is described.

 

All of the poems are somewhat educational, teaching the type of animal, its physical characteristics, how it survives, what it eats and where it lives.  This book of poems could serve as an excellent tool to teach about animals, mammals and insects.  Beast Feast is a very creative book of poems.  It is a humorous example of how illustrations and text work together to form a perfect children’s book.  

 
 
 
 
 
Last updated: February 14, 2005

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