The Longest Mustache in St. John and Other Poems is a marvel of the imagination, full of zany characters who would be right at home in the pages of Alice in Wonderland.
In this daffy dream world, created by Colin McKim, a ghost is put out of work by hiccups, a skeleton gets an unsettling physical exam, a girl hits musical gold after swallowing a harmonica and an ill-behaved hurricane gets a dressing down from no-nonsense matron.
Two Orillia icons, Stephen Leacock and Samuel de Champlain, make comical appearances along with the Man in the Moon and of all things, a Chippopatamus.
Giants and dinosaurs. lions and monkeys, crocodiles and bears parade through the colourful poems. A penguin with a broken wing is given the ride of its life by a dolphin and a chess-playing shark refuses to lose gracefully.
There is so much fun and surprise in the poems it's impossible to read them without seeing the world as a magical place where good humour triumphs.
For more than 20 years McKim worked as a journalist at three Orillia newspapers.
As a columnist, he was known for his offbeat humour, once proposing that members of council be live-trapped and released in Northern Ontario.
Some of the poems in this collection appeared in modified form in Chickadee magazine.
Jim Ireland, who produced the striking illustrations, has 60 years of experience as a commercial artist, illustrator and designer, working at Macleans, Chatelaine, Toronto Life and other magazines.
He moved to Orillia in 2010 and has served as Artist in Residence at the Orillia Museum of Art & History (OMAH). His paintings have been featured in several exhibitions at the Peter Street gallery.
The Longest Mustache in St. John can be purchased in the OMAH gift shop, 30 Peter St. S., at Manticore Books in downtown Orillia or online here.