CM . . .
. Volume XIV Number 8 . . . . December 7, 2007
Much More Munsch!, a compendium of five Munsch books published between 1999 and 2002, is a most worthy purchase. In addition to not only being cheaper than the five books as separate purchases, the collection also offers a larger format (32 x 25 cm vs the original books’ 26 x 21 cm size) which means that the illustrations will be more readily accessible to small groups during read-aloud times. And Much More Munsch! offers a number of bonus features. At the end of each of the five “books,” Munsch provides an explanation regarding how that particular story came into being. Following the five stories, Munsch includes eight of his poems that were copyrighted between 1992 and 2003, and, again, with each poem he offers a brief description of its origins. Finally, the collection concludes with a question and answer format interview, the first being with Robert Munsch as he responds to six questions largely related to the five books’s contents. A question such as “What’s the worst haircut you ever had?” is obviously connected to Aaron’s Hair while “Did you have a playhouse when you were growing up?” connects with Playhouse. In a similar fashion, Michael Martchenko, who illustrated four of the collection’s stories, and husband and wife team Alan and Lea Daniel, who were responsible for the illustrations in Aaron’s Hair, also respond to a series of questions connected to their role as illustrators.
Since three of the collection’s five stories have previously been reviewed in CM, the rest of this review will simply address the two which were not: Aaron’s Hair and Up, Up, Down. In the former, blonde haired Aaron wanted to have long, bushy hair like his bearded daddy, but the problem was that Aaron couldn’t tame his unruly locks. One day, in frustration, he yelled,
And so begins Aaron’s pursuit of his errant hair which first latches on to his baby sister’s head, then a lady’s tummy, followed by a man’s behind, a policeman’s face, and the head of a statue before seemingly disappearing. While Aaron isn’t aware, readers will see that the Daniels’ illustration reveals that Aaron’s hair has ended up on his father’s head where it blends in perfectly.
At supper, a now contrite Aaron says:
And it does.
In Up, Up, Down, Anna loves to climb, but her climbing always leads to a painful falling. Naturally, both her mother and her father provide her with parental words of caution: “Be careful! Don’t climb!” But Anna doesn’t listen to their advice and goes outside to climb the biggest thing she could find, a very tall tree. To emphasize how tall the tree is, Martchenko places the tree horizontally across a two-page spread so that readers have to turn the book sideways in order to truly see the tree’s height. On her first attempt, Anna only gets part way up the tree before falling, but on her second attempt, wearing spikes according to Martchenko’s art, she makes it all the way to the top where she proudly shouts:
Mother, of course, orders Anna to come down from the tree, but Anna refuses. When Mother attempts to climb up the tree, she falls. Father follows the same pattern, first ordering Anna out of the tree, and then falling himself when he tries to ascend the tree. Seeing her parents hurt, Anna voluntarily descends, collects her siblings and gets “ten enormous Band-Aids” with which to bind her parents’ hurts. Anna’s final words to her parents are, “Be CAREFUL – don’t CLIMB!”
Both Aaron’s Hair and Up, Up, Down are good reads, and while the Daniels and Martchenko have different illustration styles, with Martchenko’s being slightly more on the zany side, the illustrations work with each of the books.
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Dave Jenkinson, who lives in Winnipeg, MB, is CM’s editor.
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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.