CM Archive
CM Archive Book Review line

Retold by P.K. Page. Illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 1991.
32pp., cloth, $11.95.
ISBN 1-55074-039-3. CIP.

Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 3-7

Reviewed by Maryleah Otto.

Volume 19 Number 6
1991 November

No more delightful retelling of "The Brementown Musicians" could be imagined than P.K. Page's rollicking version of this ever popular folk-tale. The text is a combination of prose and poetry and the songs of the four hapless countryside animals who have been condemned by their masters and have teamed up to leave home for what Donkey blithely believes will be a glittering career in the music world of the city. In 1983 the Victoria Symphony asked Page to adapt this story for a performance and thus the idea for a children's book was born.

The familiar tale is now set in the twentieth century. The farmer has no more use for his faithful old donkey because his new red truck is more efficient. Modern vehicles are seen on the highway. Skyscrapers and telephone lines indicate the distant city. The robbers are children in punk rock hairdos, baseball caps, sunglasses and vintage clothes. Their loot includes TVs and VCRs.

Both P.K. Page and Kady MacDonald Denton, the illustrator, are no strangers to prestigious awards. They deserve high praise for their work on this book. Seldom do you find an author and illustrator so perfectly attuned to each other's artistic intent. Page introduces the "rag-taggle cat" with the "hang-dog look" and Denton shows us exactly such a creature. Donkey, fat, dumpy and irresistibly lovable, dances lightly on his hind legs while dreamily playing a make-believe flute on a small Ieafy twig. He praises Cat's "dulcible voice" and promises her she'll play the glockenspiel if only she'll join the band. Rooster, whose joints are "stiff as an iron weathervane," and Dog, whose "pedigree is impeccable," make up this "great great partnership" jovially singing their way to an unknown fate with an infectious sense of fun. And their song may just go platinum!

Hee haw Hee haw
Bow wow wow
Mee ow Mee ow
Doodle doodle doo
Hee Bow How Wow
Mee Doo Arf Bow Wee
Mow Eee Dow
Boodle Moo
Hee Boo
Bee Mee Doo

The endpapers, done in light blue and grey on white, are a joy. They show a panoramic view of town and country with the four heroes in the foreground plodding along the road.

Congratulations to Page, Denton and Kids Can Press for bringing an unrivalled treat to the children of the 1990s. The Grimm brothers would have approved.

Maryleah Otto, St. Thomas Public Library, St. Thomas, ON.
line indexes


1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995


The materials in this archive are copyright © The Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission Copyright information for reviewers

Young Canada Works