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THE NEAT LINE by Pamela Duncan Edwards


Scribbling Through Mother Goose

by Pamela Duncan Edwards & illustrated by Diana Cain Bluthenthal

Age Range: 4 - 8

Pub Date: May 1st, 2005
ISBN: 0-06-623970-2
Publisher: HarperCollins

An enterprising little line grows up from a scribble and (once it achieves “neat”ness) makes its way through a volume of nursery rhymes, solving the characters’ problems along the way. Thus, it draws a horn for Little Boy Blue to blow, a path for Jack and Jill to proceed safely down the hill, a cloud to rain on Contrary Mary’s garden, and a bird to scare away Miss Muffet’s spider. Blumenthal’s mixed-media illustrations are bright and appropriately simple, the Neat Line rendered as a line drawn with a cheery smile at the end. Edwards’s text is not without humor, but forces the conceit at times: While the path for Jack and Jill makes perfect sense, Mary’s flowers’ unhappiness is arbitrarily caused by Mary’s neglect, which does not arise naturally from the rhyme. The concept of a neat line in itself is in tune with young children’s attempts to master writing and drawing, but this one simply does not generate enough force of character to make a compelling protagonist. Cute, but lacking in the wit and vision of other recent works that deconstruct the notion of The Book. (Picture book. 4-8)