oetry were cooking, Douglas Florian would undoubtedly be considered a master chef. In previous books like On the Wing, A Pig Is Big and Insectlopedia, he has developed a distinctive cuisine guaranteed to tempt the most finicky poetry reader.

Florian's new book, lizards, frogs, and polliwogs, is no exception. Here are some of the ingredients of his never-fail recipe: ¥ Begin with children's fascination with animals, birds, insects and other creatures. The weirder, the better. Crocodiles, geckos, newts, iguanas, skinks and polliwogs will all do perfectly well.

¥ Add liberal amounts of humor, watercolor paint and brown paper bags. (That's right, the art is done on brown paper bags!) ¥ Now mix, whip, fold, knead and stir.

Â¥ The result: a delicious concoction of witty (and informative) poems with delightful illustrations, sure to get kids and parents giggling with joy.

lizards, frogs, and polliwogs boasts a design as elegant and playful as a nouveau cuisine main course. White space is used to advantage, with each poem set by itself on a page opposite a full-color illustration. In poems like The Gecko, celebrating the ability of geckos to climb walls, the words are arranged in a rectangle. The words in The Python circle around like a snake. The book is a feast of language, too, with lots of fun word play. Take a poem called The Newt. The illustration shows a newt comfortably settled in with his morning coffee and newspaper, the Newt News.

Some children's poetry is so saccharine, parents can't bear a second reading. Not so with Florian's work, which is accessible enough for children but contains a sophisticated edge teens and adults will appreciate.

April is National Poetry Month, but if you want to encourage a love of language, then you just might consider making Douglas Florian's books a part of your family's regular diet of reading. They're simply too delicious to pass up.

Deborah Hopkinson appreciates poetry and animals in Walla Walla,Washington. Her new books are Bluebird Summer and Fannie in the Kitchen.

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