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Dunn, Sonja with Lou Pamenter.

Markham (Ont.), Pembroke Publishers, 1987. 111pp, paper, $9.95, ISBN 0-921217-07-2. CIP.

Pre-School-Grade 3
Reviewed by Margaret Montgomery

Volume 15 Number 5
1987 September

Alligator pie, alligator pie, if I don't get some I think I'm going to die. Just consider that unforgettable poem-chant-march-game, and then you'll know what this book is all about.

Butterscotch Dreams is more than a sturdy paperback book containing more than sixty original chants. There is an interesting and useful introduction, an index, and directions for making the story skirt that is in the cover photograph.

The introduction discusses ways to introduce these "rhythmical sound poems" to children; it explains how speech and language development can be aided by the use of chanting. Speech problems and ESL classes are given special mention. Chants are useful in drama, in body movement classes or games, in teaching rhythm and movement skills. Chants can be the springboard to musical patterns, to mime and art, to games and fun.

The chants in the book are divided into topics such as "Friends," "Weather," "The World of Work," "Noah and his Ark," "Space Travel," "Geography," "Hallowe'en." These topics are listed in the table of contents. The index lists all the chants by title and gives page references for topics also, topics such as "listening skills, emotions, mime, puppets." However, the firelighter is listed in the index under "t" and not under "f' at all!

In addition to the introductory material, there is a paragraph of suggestions with each chant, specific to that particular one.

I'm sorry to say that I have not had a chance to use these chants with children yet, since I received the book in June. However, I have my eye on several for the fall, starting with a couple of the Hallowe'en chants. "Hallowe'en parade" will be fun to use with the kindergarten and grade one students on that day, and I can imagine a slightly older class using the "Dance of the Bones" as part of an assembly program. Who could resist

Old bones rattling
yellow teeth snapping
bald head wagging arms flip flopping...

and so on? What fun for improvised movement.

This book could be considered an addition to (and in some ways an updating of) materials such as Tashjian's With a Deep Sea Smile (Little, 1974), and her Juba This and Juba That (Little, 1969). When you start to consider it, many other rhymes can be used as chants. How about trying "Lizzy's Lion?"

There is a certain amount of Canadian content in Dunn's collection, especially in the geography section. Her chants are certainly up to date, with mention of cabbage patch dolls, condominiums, McSpace.

I'd like to see Sonja Dunn in action with some children. How about an author tour out our way, Ms. Dunn?

Margaret Montgomery, Elementary, Vernon, B.C., West Vernon
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