Serious fun whether read or performed.

MISS MUFFET

OR WHAT CAME AFTER

An old nursery rhyme expands with great silliness and literary sophistication.

Opening with the traditional six-line “Little Miss Muffet,” the narrative quickly becomes theatrical—literally. “The curtain opens on a lovely house,” say boxed stage directions, which also explain that the maids and gardener will play the chorus, changing costumes according to scene, and that “the narrator remains offstage.” Our protagonist’s given name is Patience, but she’s not your parents’ Miss Muffet—nor her parents’ Miss Muffet, not quite, rejecting their urges toward primness (mother) and entomology (father). She wants only to fiddle, so—after her mother steals her violin, and Webster the Aranea loucutus (talking spider) helps her find it—they leave home and meet an ever growing cast that includes Bo-Peep (another fiddler!), Old King Cole’s court, a rooster, some robbers, and a French poet. In stylized mixed media, Litchfield gives his tiny-footed, bulbous-nosed, elastic-necked white characters enormous speech bubbles for their…songs, perhaps? The text presents poems of myriad types—villanelle, Spanish sestet—which could be read or recited, or, with dedication, could be the script of a grand honking musical. Between the ever changing rhythms and rhyming structures and the alternating (sometimes interrupting!) voices in monologue, dialogue, chorus, and stage direction, reading aloud requires vigilance. Even the rhymes’ refinement level varies: “barbarian” with “vegetarian” in the same poem as “enemy” with “venomy.”

Serious fun whether read or performed. (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-547-90566-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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OTHER GOOSE

RE-NURSERIED AND RE-RHYMED CHILDREN'S CLASSICS

“Little boy blue / come blow your tuba. / The sheep are in Venice, / and the cow’s in Aruba.” Pairing frenetic and garishly colored art to familiar rhymes in “more modern, more fresh, and well…more Goosian” versions, Seibold stakes out Stinky Cheese Man territory to introduce “Jack and Jill / and a pickle named Bill,” the Old Woman Who Lived in a Sneaker (“She had a great big stereo speaker”), Peter Pumpkin Pickle Pepper and about two dozen more “re-nurseried” figures. Against patterned or spray-painted backgrounds, an entire page of umbrella-carrying raindrops float down, a bunch of mice run up (“the clock struck one; / the rest had fun”), cats fiddle for Old King Coal and others, Jack B. Nimble makes a lifelong career out of demonstrating his one trick and a closing rendition of the counting rhyme “One, Two, I Lost My Shoe” is transformed into a clever reprise as many of the characters return to take final bows. Sparkles on the cover; chuckles (despite some lame rhyming) throughout. (Fractured nursery rhymes. 7-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-8118-6882-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2010

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An uplifting feline tale with bumpy rhymes; well suited for families looking for Nativity stories.

JORDAN, THE CHRISTMAS KITTEN

A kitten dreams of being part of the original Christmas story in this rhyming picture book.

A kitten named Jordan lives with his brothers, sisters, and aunt in a small town in a valley. As Christmas Eve approaches, the kittens have hung their mittens, hoping for gifts from Santa Claws. Jordan can’t sleep, wondering about the best present he’ll get, but when he finally dozes off, he dreams of being present at the birth of Jesus. Snuggling with the Christ child, Jordan watches others give gifts and worries that he has nothing to contribute until Mary assures him: “Your gift was your purr, / Your adornment for my babe, / and the warmth of your fur.” When Jordan wakes, he realizes that the best gift isn’t a thing; it’s a small kindness given out of love. This sweet message is likely to appeal to young churchgoers who celebrate the religious parts of Christmas. The small, uncredited, traditional illustrations feature friendly-looking felines done in a childlike style. The diverse humans are shown as shapes rather than detailed figures, much like the pieces in a Nativity scene. Terrell’s rhyme scheme changes regularly, with the patterns varying in the different stanzas, which can make the scansion hard to follow. The accessible vocabulary, with only a few difficult words (crocheted, sublime), makes the poetry accessible to independent readers, especially those already familiar with the Christmas story.

An uplifting feline tale with bumpy rhymes; well suited for families looking for Nativity stories.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-973690-82-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2021

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