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adapted and illustrated by Jill McDonald

Age Range: 2 - 6

Pub Date: April 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-84686-543-5
Publisher: Barefoot

The animals, counting theme and catchy tune make this song a perennial favorite with readers and creators alike, but the illustrations are what make any version stand out from the crowd—and this one does. By changing a few animals and key words, McDonald encourages readers not just to count her menagerie but to experience their textures, as well, both in the words she uses and in her paper collages. “Over in the meadow in the reeds on the shore, / Lived a spiky mother muskrat / And her little muskrats four.” The mother muskrat is pictured leaping into the water, her individual paper spikes poking out from her body. Similarly treated are her bumpy toad, wooly sheep, smooth robin, fuzzy bee, furry mouse and hairy spider. Using painted papers in digital collage, the illustrator creates a quiltlike textured world for her animals, and many pages come complete with “stitches.” Unfortunately, however, a few of her textures fail to make the leap from the page—the crow is not really shiny, the lizard’s scales are painted on and "slippery" is a very difficult adjective to portray with paper. Backmatter includes a CD of the song (not heard), the sheet music for one verse, some facts about meadows and a short paragraph about each featured animal. Visually stunning if not always totally successful. (Picture book. 2-6)