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Last Laughs: Animal Epitaphs

3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  294 ratings  ·  107 reviews
Irony and wit permeate this darkly humorous collection in which each poem is the epitaph of a different animal. The pieces are grouped by animal type, and range in length from one to eighteen lines.
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published July 1st 2012 by Charlesbridge (first published January 1st 2012)
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Paul  Hankins
Faces of Death meets Wild Kingdom meets the playful urges of two of children's literature and poetry's biggest names.

The classic work and stylings of Edward Gorey are seemingly updated in this new collection of silly verse a word play from Jane Yolen and J. Patrick Lewis.

Fan's of Neil Gaiman and Gris Grisly will enjoy the short poems that describe the demise of many animals. The illustrator seems to have fun with the illustrations. Readers who look carefully can find animals described earlier i
Oh my goodness. Some of these were so hilarious. Loved them. Many of them go hand-in-hand with the illustrations to complete the humor. Some illustrations were a bit on the ICK side for me, but should appeal to the 4th-6th grade kids (especially boys). The humor will probably be best for that age group, too. I got more from the book when I looked closer at the illustrations, for in a way there is a continuing story, and there are some things that add to the humor, ick, or they-didn't factors.

I c
OK. So call me twisted (just a little). In a nut shell that's what this book is - - just a little twisted. So hilarious! Various animals/insects that have met their demise (in a typical fashion you might expect, a la bug on the windshield!)and now we get to read their oh-so-fitting epitaphs. The writing is full of plays on words, double entendres, etc. with hilarious effect. But really it's all about the funny yet almost gothic (think Tim Burton?) illustrations. Imagine ... a horse, looking rath ...more
This would be a good book to add to a haunted, ghost, monster, Halloween display. AND it would also be an interesting addition to a school book talk about things that are underground (the dead are buried you see). The book is full of epitaph poems about animals. And some of them are just funny. My nephew who was 5 had me read it to him. (He picked it out of my book stack of things I brought home to write about.) And he didn’t quite get it. But my older nephew did. And thought some of these were ...more
CH13_Rachel Arens
This is a hilarious, if macabre, book of poetry of "Animal Epitaphs." It provides a variety of possibilities for the way that animals might have died, using puns, word plays and other literary devices to make the short poems humorous, rather than disgusting or sad. As the introductory poem suggests: "Forget the hankies./Read the words/of bugs and fishes,/beasts and birds./They know it's not/all doom and gloom/that's written/once upon a tomb" (5). In addition to the engaging writing, the book als ...more
Pun-filled and delightfully surprising, this collection of 31 poems from two talented writers is very funny and certainly not politically correct. Although I felt some guilt for laughing at the end of some of the animals, I also shook my head in glee and kept on chortling and reading as the poets killed off chickens, turkeys, horses, cows, a dog, a cat, and even smaller winged wonders such as moths and fireflies. Even the titles of the poems are clever. My favorites are "Firefly's Final Flight" ...more
Although it has puns for days, this book felt a bit much to be classified as a child's poetry book.
Feb 26, 2015 Dolly rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: parents reading with their older children
This is a strange book, offering an entertaining collection of epitaphs for various deceased animals. The rhyming ditties are humorous (in a morbid sort of way) and very punny. The illustrations are a combination of digital, ink and gouache images and primarily consist of darker/sepia tones, with occasional splashes of color.

I would recommend this for older children who may find amusement in the irony, without being too upset by the gruesome and morose themes. Our oldest read this one aloud to
An interesting title to add to your kids poetry collection. Many animals pass away and the few words in their epitaphs reveal their demise. Funny, clever text is paired with grim digital illustrations in a deathly palette of grays, blacks, and dried blood.

The pictures can be graphic so this isn't one for a preschoolers eyes, but school-agers will love it. The subject/artwork brought to mind the Scary Stories by Schwartz. Overall, a fresh offering in the poetry collection that will win over some
Looking for a dark, grim, and absolutely hilarious book? Look no further! J. Patrick Lewis and Jane Yolen have written a series of posthumous poems, each commemorating the demise of a different animal. Dark, detailed illustrations by Jeffery Stewart Timmins show moments before, during, or after each unpleasant death, sometimes combining elements from different poems into one fantastically funny illustration. Last Laughs is simply fabulous. Read one epitaph and you'll be hooked.
Sorry, it might be witty, but it is definitely NOT appropriate for children. I simply do not find funny the concept of laughing at the death of animals (or people) and having a child learn this kind of attitude, accidentally or not, is not my cup of tea. I was disappointed by Yolen.
I loved this but wondered what kids would think. My 9-year-old grandsons picked it up unprompted and laughed and snorted their way through it which answered my question ;-) Great illustrations too.
Fantastic! These animal epitaphs are as humorous as they are dark. Great for school age kids. Here's one for you:

Good-bye to a Rowdy Rooster
Too cocky by far,
he head-butted a car.
I like Lewis and I found this book quite humorous and clever. I am sure that some will find it offensive...after all these are animal epitaphs so the animals are all dead...and some die quite unpleasant deaths...but it tickled my funny bone. I think this would be a fun read around Halloween. The illustrations are dark, macabre, but match the poems and even expand the poems.

For example:

Ciao, Cow

This grave is peaceful,
The tombstone shaded,
But I'm not here--
I've been cream-ated.
"Last Laughs: Animal Epitaphs" is a children’s poetry book written by three authors, J. Patrick Lewis, Jane Yolen and Jeffrey Stuart Timmins. It is intended for children from ages 7-9 or primary readers (P). It is a bit morbid to say the least. Set in a graveyard of course, "Last Laughs: Animal Epitaphs" is a poetry book written for young children about the demise of 30 animals. Technically, it can be considered a picturebook. The images are pretty graphic for this age range and this is another ...more
With simple rhyme, smirking puns, and slightly sadistic illustrations “Last Laughs” will make you laugh, let’s just hope that it isn’t your last.

The epitaph poems in this darkly humorous book are simple and pun-ny, and in general they were passable. Some were clever like Cooked Goose –

“He was Canada born
And Canada bred,
And here he lies –
Canada dead.”

Others, like Swan Song on the very next page, were not very impressive. –

“A simple song.
It wasn’t long.”

What makes this book of childishly dark poe
Laura Salas
It seems like only yesterday that I was sharing Jane Yolen and Pat Lewis’ Take Two: A Celebration of Twins. Well, they’re back and better than ever.

Their new collaboration is Last Laughs: Animal Epitaphs (Charlesbridge, 2012). If you have a somewhat morbid sense of humor (and most kids do), you will love this book! From a horse with (hay?) fever to an unfortunate kitty whose love for yarn led to her demise, these short, mostly-but-not-always rhyming poems will bring on a good laugh. Just don’t c
So my daughter brought this home from her school library. She was so excited to read it to me. By the time she finished I cannot say if I was more grossed out or laughing too hard. This is a dark take on animal deaths using short poems with added puns. Very fun book to get that student who "doesn't read" to not only read, but poems at that!
Not for the very young, as vocabulary and play on words makes it more difficult. Clever little poems/animal epitaphs. Funny for slightly older child (over 10?). I liked it. Example: "The last of a staggering stag... Win some. Lose some. Venison." The illustrations really add to the book.
Darkly hilarious, and definitely for older kids. The pictures can be gruesome - no shying away from blood here! And the puns...oh, the puns are horrible, but you feel bad for laughing at them. (But not so bad that you don't start reading the entries aloud to the people around you.)
"An Infirm Worm
To all the worms who've fed and fed
upon remains, you'll soon be dead.
Those who have the final laugh
will read these words on your behalf.
Here inside your earthbound tomb,
you'll find you've no more wiggle room."
Amazing,juvenile poetry boook intended for a intermediate audience. It is dark poetry book with illustrations to match the text. It is truly funny if you have a grim sense of humor. This book is by far one of the best poetry books ive read in a long time. The illustrations are a bit morbid but it truly adds to the comedy of the text. This book would be appealing to young readers because its funny, and rational to an extent. It answers some of the why questions children have about death. I would ...more
I love this book. I'd read it after meeting J. Patrick Lewis. It's a fun read. Maybe you'll want a funny epitaph on your tomb stone.
I would have loved to be a fly on the wall as Yolen and Lewis collaborated on this. I bet it would also be fun to see the "outtakes" of the poems that didn't make the final cut. It is such a relief to read something that is very clever and thought-provoking, if a bit morbid. I would love to have students create their own, complete with illustrations. This is good for a re-read, too, because you might miss things the first time. I loved the owl,
"Hit by a pellet
some other owl cast,
he asked, "Who?
I laughed more at the idea of this book, than the actual book.
Christopher Obert
This book of macabre poetry is fun and ghoulishly illustrated. It contains numerous poems on the demise of our beloved pets and animal companions. Each epitaph is short, bitter and to the point. It reminds me of the old horror books and records from in the Scholastic book flyers. Do you remember: “It wasn’t the cough that carried her off. It was the coffin they carried her off in!” This modern version is just as fun and just as colorful as the books we loved to read and memorize to tell to all o ...more
Amy Carr
There are not many books that I flat out hate...but this one earned its "one" star! I found this book so offensive and horrible. The illustrations are incredibly graphic, bloody, and violent and the whole subject of the book depressing and insulting. The librarian at my children's elementary school even considered pulling it from the shelves because she wasn't certain she wanted children, especially in the lower grades, exposed to the images and thinking the subject matter of animals dying was f ...more
Nikol Gordon
another great book read during lunch recess duty.
Natalie Mcadams
This wonderfully obscure title by J. Patrick Lewis and Jane Yolen is an eerie look at, well, animal deaths. However, the humor of the rhyming and the brilliant illustrations by Jeffrey Stewart Timmins make this a must read for ages 6+ (unless your preschooler is particularly into the macabre). The epitaph of the Horse, the Goose, and the Deer are my favorite illustrations and poems, but all of them are laugh worthy.
I cannot give enough praise to Jeffrey Stewart Timmins for these wonderful illus
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J. Patrick Lewis is the current Children's Poet Laureate. He has written more than seventy children's books, including Once Upon a Tomb: Gravely Humorous Verses. J. Patrick Lewis lives in Ohio.
More about J. Patrick Lewis...
Please Bury Me in the Library National Geographic Book of Animal Poetry: 200 Poems with Photographs That Squeak, Soar, and Roar! Spot the Plot: A Riddle Book of Book Riddles Edgar Allan Poe's Pie: Math Puzzlers in Classic Poems Poem-Mobiles: Crazy Car Poems

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