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Any time you can get dogs and ponies, of any size, into the same act, you have a winner. Wallace Tripp got that combination down in splendidly ridiculous form in his 1974 illustrated book of verse A Great Big Ugly Man Came Up and Tied His Horse to Me. The moment after this month’s theme came to mind, Tripp’s title poem came to mind, both words and illustrations.
I have enjoyed the illustrations of Maurice Sendak, and Wallace Tripp throughout the years. Both laid down striking illustrations with pen and ink, often colorized with another medium. Wallace Tripp’s “book of nonsense verse” consists of children’s nursery rhymes and nonsense verse. Each bit of doggerel is perfectly played off by a preposterous scene. Consider the title poem:
As I was standing in the street,
As quiet as could be,
A great big ugly man came up
And tied his horse to me.
That is a silly bit of verse that might prompt a giggle or two. Now watch the illustrator turn it up to 11, in the cover illustration and on the picture accompanying the bit of verse:
The expression on the horse’s face, the bewilderment on the face of the small creature, as the horse walks off through the village, it is all a nonsense but a delightful nonsense. If you are at all intrigued by Wallace Tripp’s work, you can borrow A Great Big Ugly Man Came Up and Tied His Horse to Me from the virtual library at archive.org.Published in