________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 4 . . . . October 12, 2007


Sing a Song of Mother Goose.

Barbara Reid.
Toronto, ON: Scholastic Canada, 1987/2007.
28 pp., board, $9.99.
ISBN 978-0-545-99724-9.

Subject Heading:
Nursery rhymes, English.

Preschool / Birth-age 4.

Review by Dave Jenkinson.

**** /4


Rock-a-bye Baby

Rock-a-bye baby,
On the tree top,
When the wind blows
The cradle will rock;
When the bough breaks
The cradle will fall,
And down will come baby,
Cradle, and all.

If your personal or institutional library already has the 1987 version of the Barbara Reid book with the same name, do not discard it. Although the board book and the 1987 work share a common title, the earlier, longer volume contained 40 nursery rhymes while the present board book provides but 14, likely those Reid considered to be the better known and/or more age appropriate verses. In design, the 1987 volume placed from one to four nursery rhymes between Reid’s trademark plasticine illustrations that were presented as banners that ran across the top and bottom of each pair of facing pages.

internal art

For the board book, Reid has created entirely new illustrations that fully occupy the right-hand of each pair of facing pages while the left-hand page carries the text. Interestingly, while the illustrations are new, in a few instances, such as “Pussy Cat, Pussy Cat,” Reid returns to the same characters that she used in the 1987 book, but she places them in different poses and in a more developed setting. The illustrations contain a good gender balance and one illustration even presents a minority character. Naturally, the text remains largely the same, with but one large change and two small modifications. In this version, Reid drops the final (and lesser-known) two four line stanzas from “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” and, in “Pat-a-Cake,” the cake is now being marked with a B for baby rather than a T for Tommy. I must admit that I’ve always found “Rock-a-bye Baby” to be a “strange” piece, one that would not have encouraged me to go to bed (at least not in a tree). Reid must have shared some of my disquietude as she has greatly changed the illustration while modifying the text ever so slightly. In 1987, a rather terrified looking baby was placed in a hard wooden cradle hanging in a tree, but today’s smiling baby is resting in a hanging wicker basket, and below it, a pair of mice have piled up a bed of cushions to break the promised fall. While the young listeners may not grasp Reid’s subtlety, she has changed the word order so that now “down will come baby, cradle and all.” In the 1987 version, the word “cradle” preceded ”baby.”

     Lucky infants and toddlers can now meet both Reid’s illustrations and traditional literature in a finger-friendly format while having the longer version of the book awaiting them as they get older.

Highly Recommended.

Dave Jenkinson, who lives in Winnipeg, MB, is CM’s editor.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.