Children's Book of the Week: Polka Bats and Octopus Slacks

by | Jan 12, 2009 | Children's Book of the Week | 2 comments

Polka Bats and Octopus Slacks by Calef Brown

Have I really not recommended this book yet? I think I’ve been assuming that you all have it already, and that recommending it would be like recommending Bread and Jam for Frances and you’d all just roll your eyes at me for recommending something so obvious. But maybe you don’t have this yet (or! heavens! maybe you don’t have the Frances books either? but that’s for another time), so I’m telling you about it now.

This is a short book (a “slim volume” as they say) of 14 wonderfully absurd and hilarious poems with accompanying absurd and hilarious illustrations. The poems are almost instantly memorizable, which is handy when you’re waiting in line and the kids are getting antsy and you suddenly whisper in their ears, “Introducing Ed/With cherries on his head/He says, ‘I likes the color’/So all his stuff is red…”.

Mostly this book exists in an alternate adult universe. I love that Brown writes and illustrates these books that are so wacky. In many ways I dream of publishing a book containing poems about towns where everyone “is greenish” or bats shout “Stroganoff!” And I think kids (especially Henry) are fascinated by the notion that a grownup exists who is creating such a fabulous alterna-world (and I’m relatively sure Henry is wishing that he grows up to be such a grownup). Thanks to our pal Steve for introducing us to this book so long ago.


  1. Anne

    We have “Flamingos on the Roof,” which is a favorite of Sam’s. There’s a poem called the Combination Tango (“Boogie to the banjo, bop to the bongo, freeze like an igloo, stomp like a buffalo…”) that Sam goes crazy for. We have made up steps for each line of the poem, which ends with the line “Do it all again,” pre-empting Sam’s inevitable “Uh-GAIN!” For a while, the Combination Tango was just about the only “exercise” I was getting.

  2. Julie

    We’ve gotten “Flamingos on the Roof” from the library, but I like “Polka Bats” better. I see that there’s another one now (“Dutch Sneakers and Flea Keepers”) too.

    For years my only exercise was a game called “Short Henry Tall Henry” that consisted of me raising and lowering baby Henry.


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