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Tongue-twisting fun

The spoonerism — the verbal blunder in which the opening letters of two or more words are switched — hints at a kind of mischievousness (maybe because it’s a tell when someone’s had an extra cocktail). And “Runny Babbit Returns’’ (Harper), by the playful and strange Shel Silverstein, is full of spoonerism poems. It is a follow-up to 2005’s “Runny Babbit’’ and culled from unpublished works from the late Silverstein’s archive. The poems, accompanied by Silverstein’s loose and expressive line drawings, show Runny Babbit in an array of situations: at a “fonbire” and a “reenie woast,” in a dream where he “malked upon the woon” made of ice cream and “sporgot his foon.” It’s frisky and tongue-tying fun.

NINA MACLAUGHLIN

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