Once Upon a Story
October 20, 2015

fanellisFeeding the Flying Fanellis and Other Poems from a Circus Chef 

by Kate Hosford, illustrated by Cosei Kawa

 

Published by: Carolrhoda Books (Lerner)

Release date: October 2015

Ages: 6-9

Pages: 32

From the publisher:

What do you feed a trapeze family to keep them up in the air? A fire eater with a penchant for hot sauce? Or a lion with a gourmet palate? How do you satisfy a sweet-toothed human cannonball who’s outgrowing his cannon?

Find out what keeps these performers juggling, balancing, and entertaining―meals prepared by their tireless chef! Poems from this jolly cook give a glimpse of his unusual perspective, from delightful to downright funny. Enjoy a front-row seat for this whimsical look at circus life that just might make you hungry!

About the Author:

Kate Hosford grew up in Vermont and is a lifelong fan of Circus Smirkus, a youth katecircus based there.
In 2010, she read an article about Ringling Brothers chef Michael Vaughn and began to wonder about the quirky food requests a circus chef might get from the various performers. The poems flowed from there. She is the author of several picture books, including Infinity and Me which won the New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book award and was named an ALA Notable Children’s Book. She lives in Brooklyn with her family. For more information, visit her website: http://khosford.com/
My thoughts:
Gone are the days when teaching children poetry (and how to enjoy it) involves dry, boring, unrelatable rhymes, with a few clever poets thrown in. Today, the library and store shelves are full of rhyming picture books, poetry collections, and novels-in-verse. Some of them are wonderful, some of them…less wonderful. Truly great poetry takes skill, much more than just rhyming words. It’s attention to alliteration and assonance, meter and scansion. It’s end rhyme, internal rhyme, and blank verse.
Oh, and once you have all that down…make it unique and appealing to kids.
It’s tough stuff, that poetry.
Fortunately for budding young poets (and their adult readers), Feeding the Flying Fanellis is poetry done right.
The first poem is an introduction to the circus kitchen, and the chef who is “most content when cooking for my friends.” The next 16 poems allow us a peek inside the circus, via the performers themselves, and their culinary desires. It begins with the ringmaster and includes such colorful characters as Little Blue the hoop-jumping dog, Martin McGarrigle the stiltman, Hugo the human cannonball, and Lena the ballerina. The final two poems introduce a new member of the kitchen, and a feast of big top proportions.
The best part about this collection is its unpredictability. The poems vary widely in tone, length, rhythm, and rhyme pattern. Each poem can stand alone, but like the circus itself, presents a delightful performance when working together. The vocabulary is rich, as are the dishes mentioned. Not just cakes and cookies, but pâtés, chowders, bisques, and cheeses. The illustrations are whimsical and full of color, most drawn as two-page spreads whose perspectives are as diverse as the text. Kawa’s images depart from the realistic, into an almost dream-like world of performers, culinary delights, and maybe a little bit of magic (or perhaps it’s all an illusion).
Feeding the Flying Fanellis is a delightful collection of poems, a treat for both the ears and the eyes. A unique addition to any poetry collection.

 

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