When the Aardvark Parked on the Ark, by Calvin Miller

I must have bought this book for my sister sometime in the late ’80s, but the fact had been wiped from my memory until recently, when I ran across it in my parents’ home while looking for something to read to my daughter at bedtime. I find it remarkable that these whimsical poems reminiscent of Shel Silverstein could come from the author of such venerable and contemplative works as two series of poetic allegories (The Singer Trilogy and The Divine Symphony–which I have read) and The Table of Inwardness and Into the Depths of God (which I have not).

Perhaps Miller repented afterward, since When the Aardvark Parked on the Ark, published in 1984, is the only such collection I am aware of (though it was re-released in 1995). In any case, I am glad he produced this volume of poetry that children and parents can appreciate. My husband was less taken with it, observing that some of the poems are silly and clever and some are just silly. I guess I am less demanding of my rhymed verse. I am content, for example, to be merely amused by the conclusion to “Eat the Eye First”:

So if you’re served a fish
That gawks from its dish
As its fishy eye stares
And makes you feel cursed,
You’ll enjoy it more
If you eat the eye first.

Those looking for something wholesome to read to children can enjoy the added benefit of a moral or spiritual (but never trite) message here and there (as in “A Glutton Can’t Button His Shirt”), along with original takes on biblical stories (as in, “I’m Gonna Have a Baby, Abie” or “Pharaoh’s Galoshes”).

If nothing else, I have to admire the skill of a man who can produce quality compositions in such a diverse range of genres. As attested to on our Books We’ve Read page, I am not a poetry critic and have only recently begun exploring 21st-century children’s literature, but I (along with my now 21-year-old sister) recommend When The Aardvark Parked on the Ark to both parents and kids.

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One Response to When the Aardvark Parked on the Ark, by Calvin Miller

  1. I was fortunate enough to take a writing course from Calvin Miller when I was a student at Beeson. He is brilliant, truly brilliant. Best of all– a truly kind and Christ-like man.

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