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I LIKE OLD CLOTHES by Mary Ann Hoberman


by Mary Ann Hoberman & illustrated by Patrice Barton

Age Range: 3 - 7

Pub Date: Aug. 14th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-375-86951-8
Publisher: Knopf

Hand-me-downs gain new poetic life in this charming picture-book remake.

Originally published with illustrations by Jacqueline Chwast, here Hoberman’s 1976 poem gets a makeover courtesy of illustrator Barton. Kirkus panned the original for attempting too much with too little, finding Hoberman’s “silly rhyme” as threadbare as its theme of recycled clothing and Chwast’s “overpopulated pictures” teeming with a “freakish cast.” Thankfully, the Barton edition coheres much better. While Hoberman’s thematic insistence on the delight to be found in imagining the prior ownership of secondhand clothes is a little heavy-handed, her verse comes across as playful and light: “I like old clothes. / I really do. / Clothes with a history, / Clothes with a mystery, // Sweaters and shirts / That are brother-and-sistery….” Barton’s digitally rendered mixed-media illustrations capture well the warmth of Hoberman’s message, using wispy lines and softly accented shading to imbue these garments with such life that they actually seem capable of some determinism in their hand-me-down trajectory. Particularly effective is the final spread, in which a clothesline strung between windows displays many of the “Now-for-play clothes” featured earlier, giving the poet’s concept of a garment’s past and future a smartly literal linearity.

With Barton’s nuanced illustrations, Hoberman’s 36-year-old hand-me-down poem defines sustainability for the next generation. (Picture book. 3-7)