Over the course of one day, readers are introduced to some familiar and not-so-familiar nursery rhyme characters.
The day starts with “Gregory Griggs” and his 27 wigs (though he is pictured in only one) and ends with a princess going “Rock-a-Bye, Baby” in a green cradle. The titles of the 26 rhymes can only be found, miserly enough, in the table of contents. The rhymes themselves range from four-line snippets to a five-stanza version of “Little Bo-Peep.” But though the concept is clever, the placement of the poems can be a puzzle, as the progression from sunrise to sunset is not always clear. Instead of starting off this slim collection with the “Old Man in Leather” rising on a “misty, moisty morning,” Marks uses the aforementioned rhyme about wigs. As the day winds down, the author inexplicably sandwiches “Georgie Porgie” between “Wee Willie Winkie” and “Honest John Boldero” and his candles. The dreamy pencil, ink, and watercolor drawings nostalgically portray costumes and people (mostly, though not universally, white) from approximately the 18th century to the early 20th. Marks’ sense of whimsy is clear in the maniacal stare of a cat giving tiny “Jerry Hall” a ride past a rat with dinner on its mind, and readers can empathize with “Little Tommy Tucker” standing on a wooden crate with the absolute rigidity of stage fright.
Ultimately, the uneven presentation makes this Mother Goose collection a supplemental purchase. (Picture book/nursery rhymes. 3-6)