Hallowilloween: Nefarious Silliness
Houghton Mifflin 2010

A Junior Library Guild Selection

A modern master of nonsense verse reaches new heights of giddiness with this Halloween-themed collection. . . . Nefariously silly indeed.
~Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Brown’s acrylic illustrations add to the creepy silliness: an artful mix of naive and stylized, whimsical details and vibrant color. Young readers will relish the wordplay and find themselves torn to choose a favorite among this wacky menagerie.
~School Library Journal, starred review

A proven master of the tongue-twister (“Polkabats and Octopus Slacks,” “Flamingos on the Roof”), Calef Brown is at his best in this tour de force of autumnal perambulations that will have kids and adults giggling at his word play.
~Nicholas Basbanes, Literary Features Syndicate

Author-illustrator Brown returns here with a new collection of verse, this time with a spooky, Halloween-friendly flavor. The fourteen poems feature subjects ranging from witches and mummies to portmanteau horrors such as the “vumpire” and the “poltergeyser” to more elaborate creepouts such as “The Portrait of Gory René.” The strong acrylic hues, fanciful shades, and antic energy provide imaginative support for the poems. Kids will relish
the spooky browsability and tongue-rolling horror, while readers-aloud will find year-round as well as seasonal opportunities to slip in a poem or two.
~The Bulletin of The Center for Children’s Books

Soup For Breakfast
Houghton Mifflin 2010

Have you ever eaten soup for breakfast? In this delicious book young readers will enjoy sifting through the poems and pictures of Calef Brown’s imagination…Children and parents will enjoy this humorous, fun book of poetry, and the illustrations capture these fun scenes perfectly.
~Children’s Literature

In Brown’s latest poetry collection, food is the subject in much of the nonsense verse. Bright acrylic illustrations extend the silliness with images of noodles tucked into haystacks and a spread of wildly colored donuts. As in Flamingos on the Roof (2006) and Brown’s other titles, the words’ playful sounds are a big part of the fun for young readers, and the lines are filled with the weird puns and unexpected rhymes. There are also contemplative poems, which are illustrated with delicate images, as in a selection about a young moth “with wings so soft” that it is a wonder it can “lift up and stay aloft.” One of the best selections, “Painting on Toast,” is about an artist who uses bread for a canvas and finds poetry in breakfast: “the primer is butter . . . honey is handy for mountains and hills.” A good choice for energizing poetry units.

The combination of stylized illustrations and offbeat verse makes this collection both adventurous and fun. Brown’s poems rhyme and roll easily off the tongue except for a tongue twister that playfully makes readers falter a bit. Brown’s varied topics and deft touch coupled with his distinctive art make this title a must-have for both school and public libraries.
~School Library Journal

Flamingos on the Roof: Poems and Paintings
Houghton Mifflin 2006

New York Times #1 Best Seller In Children’s Picture Books
Featured on NPR’s Weekend Edition
Winner of the Myra Cohn Livingston Award for Poetry
A 2007 Children’s Book Council Choice

This quirky picture book moves from poem to poem with a great deal of colorful detail and over-the-top humor. From poems about “biscuits in the wind” and “the crystal bowling ball,” to ones about tiny baby sphinxes and Poseidon’s hair, these one-page free-verse poems will engage budding poets who want poems they can understand.
~Children’s Literature

Brown’s lively nonsense rhymes blend the mythic and the contemporary, as do his acrylic illustrations, part folk art, part postmodern. The wry mockery of the haikus will appeal to older readers, but even preschoolers will enjoy acting out poems such as “Combo Tango” (“Stomp like a buffalo. / Drop like a yo-yo. / Swing like a golf pro. / Flip like a hairdo . . . “). Words and pictures manage to be both clear and weird, an enjoyable mix.

Brown’s imaginative wordplay is matched by his acrylic paintings depicting people and places in unusual hues. . . . Silly it may be, but all the best kind, prompting the reader to see the world (slightly) askew and to delight in it.

Twenty-eight more flights of fancy from a rapidly improving nabob of nonsense. . . . Composed with a fine ear for consistent rhythms and silly wordplay, these verses will tempt readers into repeat visits.
~Kirkus Reviews

This is poetry to convert the unpoetic. This is a book that begs to be read aloud by kids of all ages. There’s something for everyone here. A marvelous addition to any poetry section.
~Betsy Bird, A Fuse#8 Production

Tippintown: A Guided Tour
Houghton Mifflin 2003

An amiable blue man with an elephant’s trunk welcomes visitors to Tippintown, where folks dine on delicacies like ‘carrot tulip pie.’ This effervescent tour includes a hike up Tippinoggin Mountain, the site of seven giant sculpted heads, and a triple-decker ‘trip in a triple canoe’…Tippintown is well worth a visit.
~Publisher’s Weekly

A blue man with an elephant nose takes readers on a nickel guided tour through Tippintown, “food included.” Each spread’s rhyme, presented on the left, is followed by a one-line, droll coda on the right: “We begin at the famous Amelia statue,/here in Tippin Square./As most of you know,/Miss Amelia Tippin/invented the folding chair./Then she became an astronaut,/now she’s a millionaire”-“I think that’s her over there.” The lilt and tone of this nonsense verse can’t help but recall Edward Lear. Brown’s distinctive watercolors, in the same hip palette as his Dutch Sneakers and Flea Keepers (Houghton, 2000), adopt a flat folk-art form but then tickle it under the chin with insane details, characters defined by ultramodern styles, and fantasy elements. The wackiness and offbeat sophistication push the art from just plain goofy to meaningfully eccentric. A gleeful book for solo or shared reading.
~School Library Journal

Dutch Sneakers and Flea Keepers: 14 More Stories
Houghton Mifflin 2000

Amazon Children’s Book Top Ten
Parents Choice Recommended Winner

Brown follows his bestselling Polka Bats and Octopus Slacks with another traveling circus of poems… If Jack Prelutsky collaborated with Howard Finster, the result might look something like this.
~Publishers Weekly

…Brown introduces readers to a strange world where moons have reunions, waffles run away, people raise fleas to make money, and a magical electric guitar-playing grandma entertains crowds all over the planet. Vibrant, quirky illustrations jump off the page and perfectly match wits with the hilarious rhymes.
~Children’s Literature

Each story is told in verse that begs to be read aloud and chanted. The illustrations are in a comic folk-art style that is thoroughly hip. The far-out “plots” and silly pictures will interest younger children but older readers especially will revel in the fanciful possibilities.
~School Library Journal

Brown presents an irresistible roundup of eccentrics: the Fleakeepers, who train fleas for cash; Sir Dance-a-Lot, a knight who has traded dragon fighting for dancing; the Mysterious Fish, “Green like asparagus / Flat like a dish”; a rockin’ grandma and her “magic electric guitar”; and the wooden Dutch Sneakers of the title–“the grooviest shoes on the block . . . I don’t care if it hurts when I walk.” Brown’s paintings combine elements of folk art with swirling, energetic designs and ultrahip colors and details that match the text’s irreverent wit and fantastic scenarios. Professed poetry fans or not, young readers will choose this for reading alone or sharing with a group.

Polkabats and Octopus Slacks: 14 Stories
Houghton Mifflin 1998

Publisher’s Weekly and USA Today Bestseller
Featured on NPR’s Weekend Edition
Winner of the Marion Vannett Ridgeway Award for Poetry

A wacky, postmodern array of characters. . . . Brown’s illustrations (are) a perfect choice of style for the poetry’s quirky logic. An exuberant debut, equally enjoyable read silently or aloud.

The deadpan tone and weird words, worthy of a carnival barker, inject a step-right-up sensibility into the humorous rhymes.
~Publisher’s Weekly

Calef Brown has fashioned fourteen nonsense poems so zany that both young and old will be unable to suppress their laughter. Brown’s invented words and sounds and their visual counterparts create both an audible and a visual feast. This is the kind of silliness children relish.
~The Publisher