Illustrator Lamont’s Nursery Rhyme Crimes series gets off to an uneven start.
The device of retelling classic tales from another viewpoint is no longer new, but it remains popular. Here, the bored shepherding tyke struggles to teach her flock how to play hide and seek, only to later lose them because they have hidden themselves so well. Though the adults who have to search for them aren’t impressed at the trick, the sheep feel she was unjustly blamed. In the simultaneously publishing companion, Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son, the pig tells the truth behind the lesser-known rhyme about a boy, a stolen pig and a beating. It seems the boy and the pig were fast friends, bonding over the boy’s piping and the pig’s “pongs.” But when the pig hears the word “bacon,” the boy steals him away to live in the forest. While there is nothing inherently wrong with Lamont’s stories, they don't have much pizzazz either. Moreover, their appeal Stateside may be limited. A few British spellings (practised, pedalled, cos) and several rhymes that don't work with American accents will trip readers up. “When we came out from where we were hid, / how surprised they all were, to be sure. / But it seems that Bo Peep was sent home in disgrace— / you would think that she’d broken the law!” And although Lamont’s pen-and-watercolor illustrations amuse, they do not compensate for the books’ liabilities.
Fails to live up to the high standards already in place for alternative-POV classics. (Picture book. 4-6)