Children’s Book Review: Melvis and Elvis

May 17, 2015 | Peggy

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rsz_melvisandelvisMelvis and elvisMelvis and Elvis is the first new children’s verse collection in more than a decade from Toronto’s beloved and legendary poet laureate, Dennis Lee.  Melvis –a huge, lime-green monster–and Elvis–a pointy-eared elf with shaggy sideburns–meet while searching for books in the library. In the 33 poems that follow, these kindred spirits discover the joys of wordplay and friendship.

From the fast, playground chant of “Stinkarama,” to the melodious lilt of “Bobolink,” Lee’s distinctive, infectious style begs to be read aloud. Names of Ontario cities like Elora, Wawa, and Perth tickle the tongue in “The Sun Goes Down.” Other child-friendly topics, such as dinosaurs, dancing snowmen, and hockey pucks round out the collection.

Jeremy Tankard’s energetically bold and raucously bright illustrations compliment the poems and add another layer of humour. For example, in “Dangerous Dan,” the outlaw rebel is depicted as a curly-haired little boy who scowls at a bowl of porridge from behind the straight-back bars of his chair. Tender moments are also captured, such as the image of a teddy bear protectively cuddling a snoozing child in “Sleeping with Bears.”

Melvis and Elvis will undoubtedly introduce a new generation of children to the poetic charm of the incomparable Dennis Lee.

Linda Ludke is a librarian at London Public Library.  Her reviews have appeared in Quill and Quire, School Library Journal and CM:  Canadian Review of Materials.  When she’s not reading and writing she also loves searching for vintage treasures.
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