Serious fun whether read or performed.

READ REVIEW

MISS MUFFET

OR WHAT CAME AFTER

An old nursery rhyme expands with great silliness and literary sophistication.

Opening with the traditional six-line “Little Miss Muffet,” the narrative quickly becomes theatrical—literally. “The curtain opens on a lovely house,” say boxed stage directions, which also explain that the maids and gardener will play the chorus, changing costumes according to scene, and that “the narrator remains offstage.” Our protagonist’s given name is Patience, but she’s not your parents’ Miss Muffet—nor her parents’ Miss Muffet, not quite, rejecting their urges toward primness (mother) and entomology (father). She wants only to fiddle, so—after her mother steals her violin, and Webster the Aranea loucutus (talking spider) helps her find it—they leave home and meet an ever growing cast that includes Bo-Peep (another fiddler!), Old King Cole’s court, a rooster, some robbers, and a French poet. In stylized mixed media, Litchfield gives his tiny-footed, bulbous-nosed, elastic-necked white characters enormous speech bubbles for their…songs, perhaps? The text presents poems of myriad types—villanelle, Spanish sestet—which could be read or recited, or, with dedication, could be the script of a grand honking musical. Between the ever changing rhythms and rhyming structures and the alternating (sometimes interrupting!) voices in monologue, dialogue, chorus, and stage direction, reading aloud requires vigilance. Even the rhymes’ refinement level varies: “barbarian” with “vegetarian” in the same poem as “enemy” with “venomy.”

Serious fun whether read or performed. (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-547-90566-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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OTHER GOOSE

RE-NURSERIED AND RE-RHYMED CHILDREN'S CLASSICS

“Little boy blue / come blow your tuba. / The sheep are in Venice, / and the cow’s in Aruba.” Pairing frenetic and garishly colored art to familiar rhymes in “more modern, more fresh, and well…more Goosian” versions, Seibold stakes out Stinky Cheese Man territory to introduce “Jack and Jill / and a pickle named Bill,” the Old Woman Who Lived in a Sneaker (“She had a great big stereo speaker”), Peter Pumpkin Pickle Pepper and about two dozen more “re-nurseried” figures. Against patterned or spray-painted backgrounds, an entire page of umbrella-carrying raindrops float down, a bunch of mice run up (“the clock struck one; / the rest had fun”), cats fiddle for Old King Coal and others, Jack B. Nimble makes a lifelong career out of demonstrating his one trick and a closing rendition of the counting rhyme “One, Two, I Lost My Shoe” is transformed into a clever reprise as many of the characters return to take final bows. Sparkles on the cover; chuckles (despite some lame rhyming) throughout. (Fractured nursery rhymes. 7-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-8118-6882-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2010

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  • SPONSORED PLACEMENT

A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day.

MY DAY WITH GONG GONG

Spending a day with Gong Gong doesn’t sound like very much fun to May.

Gong Gong doesn’t speak English, and May doesn’t know Chinese. How can they have a good day together? As they stroll through an urban Chinatown, May’s perpetually sanguine maternal grandfather chats with friends and visits shops. At each stop, Cantonese words fly back and forth, many clearly pointed at May, who understands none of it. It’s equally exasperating trying to communicate with Gong Gong in English, and by the time they join a card game in the park with Gong Gong’s friends, May is tired, hungry, and frustrated. But although it seems like Gong Gong hasn’t been attentive so far, when May’s day finally comes to a head, it is clear that he has. First-person text gives glimpses into May’s lively thoughts as they evolve through the day, and Gong Gong’s unchangingly jolly face reflects what could be mistaken for blithe obliviousness but is actually his way of showing love through sharing the people and places of his life. Through adorable illustrations that exude humor and warmth, this portrait of intergenerational affection is also a tribute to life in Chinatown neighborhoods: Street vendors, a busker playing a Chinese violin, a dim sum restaurant, and more all combine to add a distinctive texture. 

A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77321-429-0

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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This oversized volume won’t fit on a bookshelf; leave it open on a table to display the art.

NEIGHBORS

THE YARD CRITTERS TOO

From the Neighbors series

Poems celebrate 12 animals that might be found in American backyards.

This collection complements Held and Kim's The Yard Critters (2011), which similarly invites young readers to think about beings that share their world. From ladybugs to chipmunks, each double-page spread features a different creature, one that may be familiar from storybooks, if not from personal experience. In a few short stanzas, the poet describes both attributes and habits. Of the porcupine: “It’s a thrill / to see this / walking quill / cushion // strolling uphill / from the cellar / where he’s built / a den down under.” “So much / does Nature / love her, / Shrew // can birth / ten litters / per year— / whew!” There’s even a riddle: “Flying from Belize to bless our summer, / this ingenious gem is called the ———.” (The word “hummer” appears in a later poem, “Field Mouse.”) Not all the ideas are important or even accurate; this is not an informational book. Nor are these your usual children’s poems. The vocabulary is sophisticated. The rhymes and sound patterns are complex and vary unpredictably. With only 12 poems, this title may seem slight. What adds value are Kim’s intriguing collage illustrations, creating stylized but recognizable animal images set on generous white space with elements crossing the gutter to lead eyes to the text.

This oversized volume won’t fit on a bookshelf; leave it open on a table to display the art. (Picture book/poetry. 7-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-916754-26-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Filsinger & Co.

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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