Machino Supremo! (Poems about Machines) by Janeen Brian and Mark Carthew, illustrated by John Veeken (Celapene Press, 2009)
Some of the poems in this slim paperback volume are written by each of the poets separately and some are co-written. Each of them is about some kind of machine, from an (industrial) jackhammer to a (domestic) egg-beater and including a pizza oven, a street sweeper and a crane. Many are fun poems, such as ‘What Not to Put in a Washing Machine’, Brian’s poem which hums along with lots of active verbs such as ‘wobble, shimmy, swoosh, swish, spin, twist, scrubble and bubble!’ and which concludes with the most important thing not to put in a washing machine (the cat)!
A poem by Carthew that particular drew my attention is ‘The Droning Drain Machine’ which flows over six pages as a workman inserts a drain unclogger hose into a pipe past ‘mud mush slimy sludge’ and ‘big bulging boggers’. John Veeken’s clever cartoon black and while illustrations move from page to page showing the hose’s path budging all the bits and pieces that are blocking the pipe.
Poems abound with alliteration (as in the co-written ‘Trains, Trams and Traffic Jams’ and Brian’s ‘Jackhammer’, the opening poem in the book). There are rhyming poems and free verse and many strong and appropriate verbs which are used to describe how various machines sound and/or operate. Carthew’s poem, ‘Vacuum Vrooming’ is jam-packed with all of the verbs one associates with cleaning carpet. Like all of the poems in this collection, it is ideal for reading aloud.
An extra activity associated with the book invites the reader to find letters which are hidden in the illustrations on each page of the poems. Finding them, the reader is able to solve a puzzle, which is to name the parts of a machine (answers given at the back of the book).
Finally, the poets and illustrator are represented in short biographies, also at the back of the book; in the bios, they name their favourite machines.
Machino Supremo! would be an excellent poem for a teacher to share with children who are studying machines. But equally it is ideal for children, especially boys, who love machines and what they are capable of doing.