The pastel tones may not hold a baby’s attention, but caregivers and toddlers should enjoy the interaction and wordplay.


Eighteen (mostly) familiar favorites serve as a board-book introduction to some classic rhymes for toddlers and a refresher for caregivers.

Such childhood favorites as “If You’re Happy and You Know It” and “Mary Had a Little Lamb” as well as action rhymes including “Pat-a-Cake” and “I’m a Little Teapot” are included. The first song featured is “Old McDonald Had a Farm,” but in this version, the farm has only cows and pigs. Most of the rhymes are similarly abbreviated, usually including just the best-known stanza—an understandable editorial choice given the attention spans of toddlers. Other choices are more puzzling. “Seesaw, Margery Daw” is seldom heard in the United States today, perhaps because of its origin as a taunt. “Red Sky at Night” uses the British version, with a shepherd (a bear in a kaffiyeh) delighting and taking warning instead of a sailor. The text refers to the “Three Blind Mice” having their tails cut off, but in the pictures, the cartoon mice sport stereotypical shades and intact tails. “Goosey, Goosey, Gander,” originally meant to warn against Catholic “left-footers,” is presented as a simple nonsense verse. This darker history is cheerfully ignored in Delahaye’s whimsical illustrations, borrowed from her children’s-wear designs.

The pastel tones may not hold a baby’s attention, but caregivers and toddlers should enjoy the interaction and wordplay. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-68010-525-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2018

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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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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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