bookIcon2 BEAST FRIENDS FOREVER! Animal Lovers in Rhyme

BEAST FRIENDS FOREVER! Animal Lovers in Rhyme, is a wise and whimsical collection of poems by children’s author Robert Forbes about some unexpected and lovable imaginary friends. Legendary artist Ronald Searle, who did the drawings for Forbes’ first two books, is back and at the top of his form, with dazzling details and colors. Plus, in each picture is a mouse to be found, a delightful way to get the youngsters (and the young in spirit) involved. Readers will fast fall in love with these charming tales of beastly romance!

School Library Journal
“Children familiar with Beastly Feasts! (2007) and Let’s Have a Bite! (2010) will cheer this third collaboration. Animal courtship is infused with quirky human characteristics and some sneaky social commentary. A small creature follows the action from page to page, and there are 17 punch-out stickers on the endpapers. These poems include a rich vocabulary of words …They will be fun to read aloud, multiple times.”

Publisher’s Weekly
“…gently mischievous poems should please those who love wordplay , the animal kingdom, and improbable romances…”

Kirkus Reviews
“…curiously wayward collection of animal love poetry.”

Midwest Book Review
“…a treasure trove of fun, highly recommended!”

Berger’s Book Reviews
“…playfully describes the antics of beasts in love.”

Mother’s Book Reviews
“…delectable verses about animals both rascally and sweet.”

NY Metro Parents
“…colorful characters…whimsical poems.”
“…poems will make you laugh and you’ll love the whimsical illustrations.”

Mother Daughter & Son Book Reviews
Follower Love Giveaway Hop: Two Books of Poetry All About Love
04 Feb 2013 by Renee @ Mother Daughter Book Reviews

Our Prize

Ahhh… Valentine’s Day!! Love it or hate, it is a time-honoured tradition that has inspired some of the most memorable poetry from both classic and contemporary writers. For our prize, we are offering TWO winners (one from the United States and one from Canada) TWO books each that have one thing in common: they both contain collections of poetry all about l’amour. The first book is the newly-released collection of family-friendly poems, all featuring animals, by Robert L. Forbes (yes, of the famous Forbes family) entitled Beast Friends Forever: Animal Lovers in Rhyme. The second book is Leslie Pockell’s collection of the 100 Best Love Poems of all Time. Here’s a bit more about each book:

Beast Friends Forever by Robert L. Forbes
Title: Beast Friends Forever: Animal Lovers in Rhyme
Author: Robert L. Forbes
Illustrator: Ronald Searle
Publisher: Overlook Duckworth
Year: 2013
Pages: 80
Recommended Ages: 8+

Summary: The beasts are back! If you haven’t heard, the whole animal kingdom is roaring its approval for Beast Friends Forever, this collection of delectable verses about animals both rascally and sweet. With delicious poems by Robert Forbes and zany illustrations of each poem by master artist Ronald Searle, these wildly playful rhymes and charmingly intricate illustrations will keep readers seven to seventy coming back again and again. The anteater (who is not a cheater), a brave meerkat named Lee, Bugsie Seagull, and Dapper Don the fox feature along with many others in this timeless collection.

My thoughts: Beast Friends Forever! contains a quirky collection of poems ranging in length from a few lines to over 12 verses all featuring a kooky assortment of animal characters including elephants, camels, seagulls, peacocks, raccoons, and many more all humorously illustrated by the distinguished cartoonist Ronald Searle. Beast Friends Forever! is Robert Forbes’ third book of poetry for children featuring all kinds of beastly delights.

The poems included in this book are all about love, but they do range in how love is portrayed or presented. For example, “Elephant Eloquence” contains sweet verse:

The call of a young mister elephant
To us doesn’t seem very elegant;
But oh for young maiden elephants,
The sound is sweet-honeyed eloquence.

In some cases, such as in “Lancelot the Ocelot”, love does not turn out so well:

Lancelot the Ocelot is caged and doing time.
His romance turned to tragedy, ending in a crime.

And then there’s a bit of naughtiness such as in “The Python”:

My friend Monty is a naughty python
Who met his wife in a python pile-on
When she emerged she had his pant on
And he, blushing, had her nylon on.

I gave this book a quick read by myself prior to deciding whether I wanted to read it aloud to my children. Given that this book is all about love (the good, the bad, and the ugly), there were some themes (loves gone wrong, seduction, lovers, cruising bars) that I prefer not to have to explain to my children at this time. So, while the poems are a fun read and the illustrations are fantastic, some of the themes may be more appropriate for older children. It depends what you are comfortable discussing with your children. While my daughter decided not to provide a review of this book, she did enjoy flipping through the book and reading through some of the poems.

My Bottom Line: I really enjoyed reading this quirky and fun book of poetry but I would have reservations about recommending it for younger children due to the more mature themes covered in the book. This book would make a great coffee table book to be displayed around Valentine’s Day.


bookIcon2LET’S HAVE A BITE! A Banquet of Beastly Rhymes

Kirkus Review
LET’S HAVE A BITE! A Banquet of Beastly Rhymes
Author: Forbes, Robert L.
Illustrator: Searle, Ronald

Review Date: September 15, 2010
Publisher: Duckworth/Overlook
Pages: 78
Price ( Hardback ): $19.95
Publication Date: October 1, 2010
ISBN ( Hardback ): 978-1-59020-409-2
Category: Poetry

Thirty-three poems about antic animals, matched with equally madcap illustrations. “The Zoo VIP (Very Idle Panda)” describes how “The giant panda at the zoo / Just sits and chomps / On fresh bamboo.” “A Busy Day for Goslings” follows a mother goose’s outing with her brood Pip, Pop, Peep and Squeak. Other highlights include “Natty Nat” (an impeccably dressed narwhal), “Mean Cuisine” (a goat chef who cooks up crazy concoctions from foraged items), “Theodore’s Great Pitch” (a lemur door-to-door salesman) and, with a nod to Ogden Nash, “The Rhino’s Wine” (a grape-harvesting family led by Amos the rhinoceros): “The wine of Amos is the last word: / Maqnifique in its ferocity: / The essence of rhinocerocity.” Bunny, emu, seal, crocodile, dingo, octopus and vole are among the other subjects. Searle’s accompanying pictures show most of the animals in action; impish details and busy backgrounds suggest Gahan Wilson or Quentin Blake.
(Picture book. 4-8)

This book was a lot of fun to read and would be a great book for families to read together. The poems are funny and the illustrations are great.

This is geared to kids 9-12, but I think all ages would love it.

August 9, 2010
Let’s Have a Bite! A Banquet of Beastly Rhymes

Robert L. Forbes, illus. by Ronald Searle, Overlook/Duckworth, $19.95 (96p) ISBN 978-1-59020-409-2
Chocolate bunnies, crying crocodiles, and fortune-telling seals star in Forbes and Searle’s companion to 2007’s Beastly Feasts! There’s no shortage of offbeat characters (who become even more so in Searle’s kinetic cartoons), including a color-changing emu, a well-dressed narwhal (“In the summer he needs no topper–/ His groovy shades are a real show-stopper”), and a photogenic buffalo.

Let’s Have a Bite!
Written on September 21, 2010 by Jennifer (5 Minutes for Books)

Don’t freak out! We haven’t turned into a children’s picture book blog (not that there’s anything wrong with that!). At 5 Minutes for Books, we are still proud to feature books across many genres for children and adults. This week is all about highlighting children’s books, and we are also posting more frequently than you may be used to, for this week only.
Let’s Have a Bite!: A Banquet of Beastly Rhymes by Robert Forbes is a wonderful whimsical book of poetry sure to appeal to kids.

The illustrations by Ronald Searle have that sort of odd creepy feel, which perfectly complements the subject matter.
These poems all feature animals: “Baker Betty” (who happens to be a baboon), “The Turtle Dash,” “Ooh,Lala” (about a nasty-tempered koala named Lala), “The Story of Rory” (the rattler).

It’s a rather long collection, featuring 33 poems which each have a full two-page spread. My six-year-old son and I read a poem or two or three before bed each night. I absolutely love having a book of poems around for that purpose – a quick add-on to a picture book reading or simply a quick goodnight read of a poem or two to stand alone.

One thing that I really like about this collection is its diversity. All the poems are about animals, but they are all different. Most are silly, but they all have a different tone, and even better – a different form. Some collections offer poems that have the same ABBA or ABABAB rhyming scheme, or are all 14 lines long or whatever. Some of Forbes’ poems are 1 stanza of 5 lines, others are longer more free-formed poems, some have two stanzas, other have five. The variety keeps the collection from being too predictable, and also serves to teach children about the different forms a poem can take.

bookIcon2BEASTLY FEASTS! A Mischievous Menagerie in Rhyme

The Wall Street Journal
A Beastly Pursuit, in Rhyme
By Ralph Gardner Jr.
Updated Sept. 28, 2010 12:01 a.m. ET

I doubted that Robert Forbes—the son of the late Malcolm Forbes, the legendary publisher of Forbes magazine, hot-air-balloon enthusiast, and friend of Elizabeth Taylor—and I had anything in common. He has a 151-foot ocean-going yacht, the Highlander, with a helicopter deck (even though it’s been temporarily mothballed in deference to the dismal economy) and I don’t. He’s got a 1971 Lamborghini Espada, “arguably the most beautiful car ever made,” he said. My ’97 Honda CR-V has been in the shop for a week now. And the Forbes family had Richard Nixon over to dinner. “He loved red wine,” Mr. Forbes recalled. “In particular Châteaux Margaux.” Needless to say, Nixon and I never broke bread.

But it turned out that Bob Forbes and I do have something in common: a terrifying formative experience. We both had to wear short pants long after our grammar-school peers had graduated to trousers. Except in his case it was even worse. He had to wear kilts. “We all wore kilts to church on Sunday,” said the 61-year-old Mr. Forbes over lunch last week at Gotham Bar and Grill, the de facto Forbes empire commissary. “We kids all grew up entertaining on the boat; passing the shrimp; getting someone another cocktail. My three brothers and I all learned how to play the bagpipes.”

Talk about a drag, they had lessons both Saturday mornings and Sunday afternoons. “Of course we hated it,” he went on, “but this is how the bread got buttered: a boatload of CEOs and their wives would go up the Hudson to West Point for the Army home games six times a year. After lunch Dad would gather everybody on the foredeck and we’d skirl a couple of tunes and Dad would give a little pitch. And then we’d line up on the dock and play ‘Will Ye No Come Back Again.’ ”

But didn’t he resent his father for making him expose his boney knees? I still hold it against my parents. I’d sneak a pair of long pants in my briefcase and change in the locker room the instant I arrived at school.

“What it did,” said the affable Mr. Forbes, these days the publisher of ForbesLife, the Forbes’ luxury lifestyle magazine, “it gave us all a bond. We all had to do this.”

As happy and well adjusted an adult as Mr. Forbes seems on the surface, I can’t help but believe his latest book, published this week, “Let’s Have A Bite! A Banquet of Beastly Rhymes,” with drawings by the New Yorker cartoonist Ronald Searle, isn’t the result of night terrors.

“The Giant Panda at the zoo just sits and chomps on fresh bamboo,” goes one poem. “His belly is like a cooking pot, Which happens when you eat a lot. He’s content to do not much but chew. Which is all he seems to do (That and poo!)”

People often take a stab at children’s books after reading “Goodnight Moon” to their own kids and becoming convinced they can do better. But Mr. Forbes hasn’t read to his son Miguel in decades. Miguel is in his thirties. Miguel is Forbes’s president of television and licensing.

It seems Mr. Forbes simply has crazy rhymes going through his head. He’ll wake up in the middle of the night, don his special Edward Beiner reading glasses with built-in reading lights, write for a couple of hours, roll over and go back to sleep.

“I write to amuse me,” he said. “I write stuff I’d like to read.” Such as, apparently, “A chicken-stewing cat named Shauna slipped on her sweat in the sauna. She moaned on the floor, ‘I must reach the door, Or I’ll be a fricasseed goner.’ ”

Mr. Forbes said he contacted Mr. Searle, who lives in the south of France, and whose work he collects, out of the blue, fully prepared to be rejected, but figuring it couldn’t hurt to ask. But Mr. Searle said yes. “I’ll write a couple of lines about the poem,” Mr. Forbes said of their collaborative process, “and a month or two later back this package comes with all these illustrations. It’s like a little boy opening a Christmas present.”

This is actually Mr. Forbes’ second book of poems and critters. The first, “Beastly Feasts,” also illustrated by Mr. Searle, was published in 2007. And Mr. Forbes shot the photography for “A Year of Dancing Dangerously,” about his wife Lydia Raurell’s successful quest to be crowned newcomer of the year on the pro-am ballroom dance circuit, though partnered with Brian Nelson, her professional dance partner.

Mr. Forbes divides his time between Manhattan, where he lives in Forbes Magazine worker housing, Palm Beach where his wife and Lamborghini reside, and the road, having just returned from dance competitions in Irvine, Calif., Las Vegas and Phoenix. “She’s three to four hours a day practicing with a coach,” he said of his wife. “She takes it very seriously.”

However, she’ll still condescend to dance with her husband. “Happily,” he said, “she lets me lead.”

And the poems keep coming. The drawings too. Last month the 90-year-old Mr. Searle delivered five more. “I’ve got at least two more books done by him,” Mr. Forbes said. “I have no idea whether my publisher will do it—but I don’t care.”

Two Heads Together

Young Adult Author Mega-Signing
March 28, 2013 by Ed

Some days are made for wandering and this past Sunday was one: sunny and brisk. We had an itinerary so we weren’t technically wandering. We were walking with a purpose.

Our first stop was Books of Wonder on 18th Street in Manhattan. As you YA readers know, David Levithan is everything YA: an author, an editor and an event planner. Through his efforts, this past Sunday Books of Wonder hosted a YA Author mega-signing, which turned out to be a mega-hit. Susan and I arrived at 1 P.M. for Beth Kephart’s 1:45 PM signing. It is a cute little store and as you enter, there are books staring you in the face…books that we would potentially want to buy. I quickly grabbed Kephart’s Small Damages and bemoaned the fact that they ran out of Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park. (Don’t feel bad, when Susan heard a salesclerk say she’d check to see if there were any more copies, she hung around and grabbed the remaining one.) I’m glad she did, because Ms. Rowell was so sweet when I asked her to sign it.

I gave Susan my opinion on what book to buy and then I accosted Beth (who, as you know I’d never met before) as she was about to go out to get something to eat before her signing. Needless to say, that never happened. Beth, I hope you weren’t starving during your signing.

But then we had some time to kill and you know how dangerous that can be for book lovers in a bookstore. I snared a copy of Beastly Feasts by Robert L. Forbes and illustrated by Ronald Searle. Those face out covers really do attract readers. I merely glanced at the poems inside and that was that. I had to have it. And I finally succombed and purchased the Caldecott winning The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinckney. I love his artwork and I’ve been wanting it forever. Susan found a copy of a story book she loved when she was a kid. Her hand was shaking because she never thought she’d find another copy of it, anywhere.

Our day didn’t end there. After buying a ton a books, you need a cup of coffee, right? We went to 71 Irving Place, a coffee bar a few blocks away from Books of Wonder, on 18th Street, and had the best, and I mean the best, chocolate croissant. They had rice krispie treats that you couldn’t fit in your mouth, but we found those after the croissant. I should have bought one to take home. 71 Irving Place has a nice atmosphere and it’s crowded so you know it’s good. I highly recommend it.