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Last Laughs: Animal Epitaphs    by J. Patrick Lewis, Jane Yolen & Jeffrey Stewart Timmins order for
Last Laughs
by J. Patrick Lewis
Order:  USA  Can
Charlesbridge, 2012 (2012)
* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

This is not your typical collection of short poems. In this collection of animal epitaphs that focus on the final moments of each critter's life, verses are grouped by animal type and are full of clever wordplay and macabre humor. Of course, this is just the type of humor many youngsters and adults find inexplicably funny.

The thirty epitaphs range from just one to eighteen lines in length, sport witty titles, and the corresponding illustrations capture the essence of each dire situation. Here's a sampling of what you'll find: Ciao, Cow - 'This grave is peaceful, / the tombstone shaded, / but I'm not here / I've been cream-ated.' Owl Be Seeing You 'Hit by a pellet / some other owl cast, / he asked 'Who?' quietly / as he passed.'

From a rattlesnake, iguana and piranha to swordfish, newt and moth, the diverse collection of creatures whose final moments are immortalized here is amazing.

After reading this book a few times, it might be amusing to try to create a few epitaphs yourself. How about this one? 'Here lies Fluffy the cat. Her last ride was in the dryer at the laundromat.'

2nd Review by Lyn Seippel:

If you're into dark humor, you'll enjoy these macabre bits of poetry. Each poem is an epitaph for a different well-known animal.

Most are short and punchy, just right for a tombstone. The longest is For a Bear, Barely There. My favorite was for an owl, Owl Be Seeing You. The illustrations are almost funnier than the puns.

I enjoyed this outlandish collection, but I don't think this is a children's book. Keep that in mind before taking it home, unread, to your child.

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