Forty familiar and not-so-familiar nursery rhymes are illustrated with gorgeous and evocative images.
Morris employs muted but rich colors and fabulous floral patterns to lend both whimsy and grandeur to the rhymes. The title page quotes “Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, / Jack jump over the candlestick,” and the illustration depicts an elegantly top-hat-and-tails–clad Jack leaping gracefully on his hare steed over a blue-and-white striped candlestick with a dove-shaped topper. Every image is arresting: The lady with “rings on her fingers and bells on her toes” is trailed by troubadours playing tambourine, lute and a double recorder. “Lavender’s blue, dilly, dilly” and “Lilies are white, rosemary’s green / When I am king, you will be queen” are on facing pages, sharing an illustration of the king and queen on a great white bear. He is crowned with rosemary and the bear with lavender, and the lilies are larger than the bear. “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep” is both exotic and familiar: A ram as large as a camel carries pretty striped bags labeled “for Master,” “for Dame” and “for Little Boy” and is led by a woman in silks and velvets knitting a brilliantly colored shawl. Even the tag line about the art—“Illustrated with Windsor & Newton artist’s quality watercolours, on Arches hotpress watercolour paper”—is sumptuous.
A beguiling and surprising addition to the nursery-rhyme shelf. (Picture book/nursery rhymes. 3-7)