An unusual, lively collection of nursery rhymes sourced from historic texts.



This is not your average book of nursery rhymes.

This illustrated collection consists of verses sourced from historical anthologies and therefore contains poems that many Americans have most likely never encountered before. Many include nonsense words or onomatopoeia and are a pleasure to read out loud. The accompanying pictures feature a diverse cast of wide-eyed children, and, on several pages, the cleverly designed, multicolored type takes the shape of the rhyme it conveys. In a poem about flying, for example, the words are curved as though in flight, and in a verse about looking through a keyhole, the text gets progressively smaller along with the perspective. Some illustrations usefully provide pictorial definitions for vocabulary such as jelly, which in this case refers to a gelatin dessert, that is archaic or rooted in a European tradition that may be unfamiliar to readers without that background. Unfortunately, on other pages, words like tupenny and ha’penny are left without an illustrated reference, leaving definitions up to readers. Additionally, references to sausage and bacon might be problematic for families that come from traditions that traditionally avoid pork. Overall, the book is a thoughtfully curated and entertaining read for devotees of English and Anglo-American children’s verse or for adults looking to expose their children to nursery rhymes they may not otherwise hear. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11.6-by-21.4-inch double-page spreads viewed at 39.3% of actual size.)

An unusual, lively collection of nursery rhymes sourced from historic texts. (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1273-0

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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A riff on the familiar lullaby depicts various animal parents, and then a human father, soothing their sleepy little ones.

An opening spread includes the traditional first verse of the titular lullaby, but instead of depicting a human baby in a treetop cradle, the accompanying illustration shows a large tree as habitat to the animals that are highlighted on subsequent pages. First the perspective zooms in on a painterly illustration rendered in acrylics of a mother squirrel cuddling her baby with text reading “Rock-a-bye Squirrel, / high in the tree, / in Mommy’s arms, / cozy as can be.” In this spread and others the cadence doesn’t quite fit with the familiar tune, and repeated verses featuring different animals—all opening with the “Rock-a-bye” line—don’t give way to the resolution. No winds blow, no boughs break, and the repetitive forced rhythm of the verse could cause stumbles when attempting a read-aloud. The final image of a human father and baby, whose skin tone and hair texture suggest that they are perhaps of South Asian descent, provides pleasing visual resolution in a book with art that outshines text.

Ho-hum. (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3753-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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There are better fish in the board-book sea.


From the Science for Toddlers series

Dramatic stock photos and die-cut tabs are the distinguishing features of this board book.

“Did you know that there are over 400 types of sharks?” is an intriguing opening, but readers primed to find out about those specific types may be surprised that the shark on the facing page is not identified. Instead, the picture of a shark above a school of fish gives a sense of its size. Smaller text explains that shark skeletons are made of cartilage, not bone. Layered die cuts that accentuate the nose and mouth of nine different sharks on the right-hand pages invite children to turn the pages quickly. White type printed against various contrasting colors on the left-hand pages offers tidbits of information but is unlikely to make young children pause long enough to be read the text. A picture of almost 40 sharks swimming together seems to contradict the accompanying explanation that many sharks are endangered. A final full-color spread speaks of sharks’ important role in maintaining ocean balance and includes a picture of a grandfatherly shark scientist. The back cover is devoted to information for adults. While intriguing and scientifically credible, the wordy text and seemingly arbitrary factoids are well beyond the attention spans of all but the most avid young fans of the species.

There are better fish in the board-book sea. (Board book. 3-4)

Pub Date: June 6, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4549-2128-8

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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