A sumptuous multicultural collection of nursery rhymes includes art by over 70 illustrators.
The diversity of illustration styles and subjects coincides nicely with the diversity of rhymes, which refreshingly move beyond Anglophone origins. Hammill’s skills as collector are especially sharp in juxtaposing cultural variants of rhymes—for example, a spread with the English Little Miss Muffet includes the Jamaican Lickle Muss Julie, the American Little Miss Tuckett and the Australian Little Miss Muffet, who gets frightened away by a pugnacious wombat rather than a spider. Also pleasing are inspired rhyme pairings. Isn’t it fitting that naughty Georgie Porgie is on a page facing one devoted to the sometimes-horrid little girl with a curl? Or that the tongue twisters about Betty Botter and Peter Piper share a double-page spread? Or that Yankee Doodle and the grand old Duke of York face each other, too? It’s also delightful to see rhymes including oft-omitted stanzas, including five in all for a not-so-little Bo Peep. Illustration highlights include: Emily Gravett’s delicious, posterlike rendering of six-and-twenty mice alphabetically indulging in apple pie; Nina Crews’ delectable photomontage illustrations for a variety of food-related rhymes; Robert Ingpen’s gorgeous interpretation of “The lion and the unicorn”; and in a callback to his Caldecott Honor, Jerry Pinkney’s interpretation of Brother Noah who built the ark.
Never mind far away, keep this collection close by. (Poetry. 1-8)