Please Bury Me in the Library
Lewis, J. Patrick. 2005. PLEASE BURY ME IN THE LIBRARY. Ill. by Kyle M. Stone. Orlando, FL: Harcourt, Inc. ISBN 0152163875
2. Plot Summary:
J. Patrick Lewis’s collection of fanciful poems is a kid-friendly homage to reading. His poems come in a variety of formats such as Haiku, Limerick and Acrostic to name a few. With a definite nod to Shel Silverstein and Edward Lear, the tone ranges from macabre to capricious. Anyone who enjoys books and reading will enjoy this different take on language and literature.
3. Critical Analysis:
In his whimsical collection of humorous poems, J. Patrick Lewis provides a different point of view on everyday items and ideas. His skewed thinking creates a fantasy world in which Alphabet letters do the backstroke in soup and butterflies and caterpillars discuss the future. The illustrations by Kyle M. Stone capture the essence of each poem. His beautiful watercolor drawings echo the mood and tone of the poems. In “Eating Alphabet Soup”, the letters are depicted floating among carrots and mushrooms in a swamp like environment and the text reads, “While K, Z, and B do the backstroke / across this hot, steamy lagoon, / the fun-loving Vowels / may want tiny towels / to dry themselves off on the spoon”. Lewis’ use of rhyme, rhythm, and alliteration will appeal to children and offer exciting opportunities for read alouds.
The book is organized with a table of contents helpful for finding poems. Even the Acknowledgements in the back of the book are written in rhyming verse. “Whose book this is I hardly know, / considering the debt I owe.” He gives a nod to the poets, like Edward Lear and Shel Silverstein, who have inspired him. Lewis uses many different styles and forms throughout the collection such as Haiku, Acrostic, and Limerick. In the poem, “Reading in the Dark”, multiple meaning can be inferred in the stretched out font for the words “w e e w o n d e r “, as the owls, who stay up late (night owls, perhaps?) pondering over the book, “The Field Mouse’s Guide to Midnight”. The wee wonder could mean the small mice or the fact that the owls are contemplating them. Lewis word choice and figurative language brings a deeper level of meaning to each unique creation.
The internal rhyme of the title alone is enough to capture a child’s interest and curiosity and leave them wanting more.
4. Review Excerpts:
Starred review in KIRKUS. “In 16 poems, all but two appearing here for the first time, the Midwest's cleverest living comic poet enjoins readers, "Please bury me in the library / With a dozen long-stemmed proses."
Reviewed HORNBOOK. “Not all of the poems read smoothly or easily, but many of them display wit and humor.”
Reviewed in BOOKLIST. “Despite the picture-book format, it will take children older than the preschool crowd to appreciate the wordplay, which on occasion is quite sophisticated (Lewis credits Lear, Carroll, and X. J Kennedy as his inspirations).”
Other books by J. Patrick Lewis:
ONCE UPON A TOMB: GRAVELY HUMOROUS VERSES. ISBN 0763618373
DOODLE DANDIES: POEMS THAT TAKE SHAPE. ISBN 068981075X
SWAN SONG: POEMS OF EXTINCTION. ISBN 1568461755
Silverstein, Shel. RUNNY BABBIT: A BILLY SOOK. ISBN 0060284048
Prelutsky, Jack. BENEATH A BLUE UMBRELLA. ISBN 0688064299
*Student can create other book titles from the poem, “What if Books had Different Names?” and illustrate them.
*Research Edward Lear, Jack Prelutsky, Shel Silverstein, Lewis Carroll, and X. J. Kennedy and see how their poems and style has influenced J. Patrick Lewis.