The famed Mother Goose arachnophobe finds her picnic pilfered by various animals in this expanded adaptation.
The tale starts off with the familiar rhyme, but the next six verses switch things up a bit with a bird pecking at her curd, a parrot crunching her carrot, a bear gobbling her pear and so forth. Each time, Miss Muffet, a curly-haired Caucasian tyke wearing blue overalls, is frightened away. On the last page, she decides to stay when each of the previously offending critters brings her a snack. One die-cut hole is added to each subsequent right-hand page to reveal the new animal’s arrival, and on the left-hand page, the holes reveal the animal’s eating noises (“Gobble! Gobble!” or “Chew! Chew!”). While the cartoon Miss Muffet and animal visitors are playful enough against sunny-colored solid backgrounds, the art starts to look monotonous as the image of Miss Muffet fleeing the scene is repeated on each page. The new rhymes featuring poodles eating noodles and mice munching rice work well, but others in the Classic Books with Holes series are not as fortunate with their texts. In Itsy Bitsy Spider, the die-cut holes reveal additional spiders climbing on other parts of a house and yard; Itchy Nitchy scales the window box and Oochy Koochy ascends the apple tree in amateurish cartoons. In Hickory Dickory Dock, the page turns and die-cut holes spotlight further creatures scampering up the clock, such as a snake, a crab and a frog, as the hours grow late. The word choices in each stanza are clearly contrived to suit the scheme, and several of the creatures climbing the clock, particularly the sheep, bear and dog, are out of scale with one another and look odd in their clock-mounting attempts. In Mary Had a Little Lamb, the holes expose a total of seven lambs that follow the sheep-loving heroine around in all sorts of weather. While this book also has a few awkward rhymes, it does include some nicely diverse images. Mary’s class is multiethnic, and one member of her dance class uses a wheelchair. Music notation for each classic tune is included on the back of each book.
There are a few clever ideas in this series, but many of the added verses and the repetitive art feel forced to fit the die-cut-hole gimmick. (Board book. 2-4)