FILED IN: Book Reviews

Sipping Spiders Through a Straw: Campfire Songs for Monsters By Kelly DiPucchio; illustrated by Gris Grimly

Sipping Spiders Through a StrawSipping Spiders Through a Straw: Campfire Songs for Monsters
By Kelly DiPucchio; illustrated by Gris Grimly
Scholastic Press, $15.99
40 pp., ISBN-13: 978-0439584012

Review by Amy Brozio-Andrews

With just a few weeks left of summer, there’s just enough time to make use of Kelly DiPucchio’s Sipping Spiders Through a Straw. Subtitled "campfire songs for monsters," the book is especially good for kids as well. Whether you’re actually sitting around the campfire, amusing yourselves on a long car trip, or just spending a lazy rainy Saturday at home, the singing and laughing will more than entertain your little monsters.

DiPucchio’s collection of campfire songs is a mix of familiar tunes with new words, all appropriately creepy and spooky for late nights in the woods around a dwindling fire. From "Creepy, Creepy Little Jar" sung to the tune of "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" to "Do Your Guts Hang Low?" sung to the tune of "Do Your Ears Hang Low," these songs are silly, spooky, funny, and maybe just the littlest bit frightening. "Home of the Strange," based on "Home on the Range," talks of the place where "the stench in the air, comes from goon underwear and the kids are all pasty and gray." A full complement of 18 songs rewritten for maximum horrifying effect means there’s a new chance to get completely grossed out on every single page.  

As each song is paired with Gris Grimly’s dark and delightful illustrations, Sipping Spiders Through a Straw is a just plain fun book. Grimly’s earthy colored watercolor and mixed media artwork is edgy. Spirited fantasy characters have a good time on every page. DiPucchio’s strong rhymes and silly scenes are sure to prompt laughter among young readers. The tunes and lyrics are catchy enough that you’ll find the songs bouncing around in your head for days, and the kids will be singing them too.

The only problem with song books of rewritten lyrics is when you don’t know the original tune. Thankfully, DiPucchio’s picks are common enough that there will probably only be one or two songs you don’t know. (Although, I admit to not knowing the tune for the title song, "Sipping Cider Through a Straw" — for some reason, I keep trying to sing along to Squeeze’s "Pulling Mussels (From the Shell)".) Given that, the lyrics are well-written enough that turning a song into a spoken poem will work just fine. Beyond silly summer campfires, your kids will find this book handy at Halloween time too, and anytime they want to get goofy and irreverent and are done singing the usual kids’ songs.