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Scarum fair : poems

by Jessica Swaim


School Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Gr 3-6-Clever writing pulls children into a creepy carnival of 29 humorous poems. In a series of mostly four- to twelve-line selections, children ride the "Teacup Terror," "Scary-Go-Round," and "Rattler Coaster"; taste a bit of "Devil's Food Cake" and "I-Scream"; and attend "Count Dracula's Wedding." The first poem, "The Ghoul at the Gate," warns one kid to "Turn back,/or you'll regret it," and a large green claw comes onto the page to pick up an unsuspecting red-haired boy. Although the poems all seem to be written about that one boy becoming trapped ("Hey, kid...I told you/not to come here./Did you listen to me? No!/You'll never leave the Scarum Fair./The hand won't let you go..."), readers do not see that particular boy throughout but rather a cast of Caucasian children. Dark background colors add a sense of foreboding as the cartoon children meet the ghouls illustrated in acrylics, graphite, and pen and ink. This book will require little hand-selling and will be especially popular among fans of Adam Rex's Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich (2006) or Frankenstein Takes the Cake (2008, both Harcourt) and Jack Prelutsky's Awful Ogre's Awful Day (Greenwillow, 2001).-Julie R. Ranelli, Queen Anne's County Free Library, Stevensville, MD (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

There's something about the singsong nature of rhyming poetry the assurance of that inevitable final-line shock that makes it an ideal delivery method for the spooky. In this macabre little exercise, a group of children (themselves rather scary, with their dark-ringed eyes making them look sleepless or haunted) enters Scarum Fair, where various monsters, sinister forces, and hybrid creatures sell their wares and operate games of skill. A giant green hand points out the various routes: Or flip a coin / to help you choose. / Heads or tails, / you're bound to lose. There are the expected vampires and mummies and occasional groaners ( I-Scream ), but this is a mostly fresh take, offering up decomposing bands, mad tattoo artists, haunted teacup rides, and more. Ashley's acrylics-and-graphite art provides plenty of creepy touches, from the confusing, Seussian road signs to stuff that gleefully defies explanation (the egg incubator from one poem is, weirdly enough, mounted atop someone's head). Books of poetry are usually episodic, so bonus points for all the repeat characters referenced in both the text and illustrations.--Kraus, Daniel Copyright 2010 Booklist

Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

A little bit silly, a little bit sinister, Swaim's poems introduce different denizens and attractions at the playfully twisted Scarum Fair. There's devil's food cake to eat, shrouds for sale, and a werewolf den to visit-"Like our friendly canine cousins,/ we're a cute and cuddly bunch./ Just think of us as puppies,/ and we'll think of you as... lunch." Ghoulish images of eyeless fanged creatures of every sort make this a punchy treat for fans of the macabre. Ages 9-11. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.



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