Rhyme time in summertime.
Just about everybody is thinking about jobs these days. That includes J. Patrick Lewis, a poet and children's author who lives in Westerville. His latest collection, The Underwear Salesman (Atheneum, 58 pages, $16.99), is filled with descriptions of jobs "for better or verse."
Lewis is a poet who doesn't mess around. He gets right to the point and avoids extraneous words. His description of an exterminator, for example:
I come to de-bug
What's under de rug.
Or a plumber:
Here's a job to call your own
When you're inside the Twoilet zone.
Or the rules that sword swallowers live by:
Look up to the ceiling.
Ignore your gut feeling.
He outlines more than 50 occupations in poems that are consistently inventive and humorous. Each is accompanied by novel illustrations by Serge Bloch, who incorporates sketches, photos and a fine sense of humor. For the title poem, Underwear Salesman (you wear them briefly, and in short, I sell them chiefly for support), Bloch presents a panorama of multicolored briefs, price tags attached.
The publisher recommends the collection for ages 7 to 10, but adults will enjoy the droll, economical book in which -- praise the Lord -- everything rhymes.
The rhyming continues in another Lewis book out this summer -- Countdown to Summer: A Poem for Every Day of the School Year (Little, Brown, 192 pages, $15.99, ages 8 to 12). Start it now, or tuck it away for the first day of school -- or 180 days, the number of poems that Lewis provides to sustain kids through the academic year.
No stuffy, serious poems here. Lewis has fun with puns, riddles, limericks, shape poems and more as his topics cover everything from library fines and school custodians to a proposed amendment to the Constitution: making the nation's leaders take the fourth-grade standardized achievement test so that "no president or vice president shall be left behind."