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THE ITSY BITSY ANGEL by Jeffrey Burton


by Jeffrey Burton ; illustrated by Sanja Rešček

Pub Date: Sept. 17th, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-5344-4340-2
Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

The Nativity story is retold to the tune of “The Itsy Bitsy Spider.”

Burton and Rešček’s latest attempt to exploit the popularity of the familiar nursery song shares many of the same problems found in their previous efforts (The Itsy Bitsy School Bus, 2018, etc.). The text tries to match the rhyme and meter of the traditional verse, but there are just too many syllables. “Out came a Star / to chase the clouds away” works, but good luck singing the next line: “and three wise men looked up / and let the Star guide their way.” Similarly, rhyming “world” and “girl” requires a leap of faith. For no apparent reason, some words are set in a different-colored type from those around them. Rešček’s illustrations of the desert Holy Land are greeting-card sweet, and most of the characters—the titular angel, shepherds, Magi, and baby Jesus—are pale, though there are a few secondary angels of color. The story begins with the angel announcing the tidings of Jesus’ birth, leaving out the complexity of the original. Sturdy board pages may stand up to rough handling, but with limited seasonal appeal it’s likely to languish more often than not. This simplified and sanitized retelling may, however, attract caregivers looking for religious stories to share with toddlers.

Both the song and Bible story are better in their original versions.

(Board book. 1-3)