CM . . . .
Volume VI Number 9 . . . . January 7, 2000
INTRODUCTION:Right from the outset, A Child's Treasury of Nursery Rhymes shows itself to be an excellent example of fine bookmaking. Kady MacDonald Denton's two-page "Introduction" clearly explains how she collected and then organized the book's selections. "Thus this collection is split into four sections, designed to appeal to children at different stages in their lives." The first section, "Welcome Little Baby," is, naturally, about babies; the second, "Toddler Time," she says, "follows the pattern of a toddler's day..."; "In the Schoolyard," the third section "reflects the energy of young schoolchildren with playground chants, verses and nonsense pieces" while "All Join In," the closing portion, "is full of things that older children will enjoy, set within the world of an old-fashioned fair."
MacDonald Denton's watercolours are lively and full of action, expressive of emotions and most colourful. Readers can almost feel the soft chubbiness of her multicultural babies in the opening section. Variety abounds in terms of how MacDonald Denton designs her pages. In most instances, she will have several different selections on each pair of facing pages, but, occasionally, she will interrupt this arrangement with a double page spread that deals with a single verse or rhyme. Frequently, the initial letter of a piece is enlarged and boxed to resemble the face of a child's toy block. An interesting feature, which is continued throughout the book, is a portion of a nursery rhyme that is found in the top corners of each page and which carries over a number of pages. MacDonald Denton also brings a freshness to the familiar, and so Jack and Jill become a pair of mischievous kittens climbing over the hill of a sofa to play in the water found in a vase while Old King Cole's fiddlers three include a "she." "A was an apple" is a remarkable double page spread which invites its readers/listeners to match each of the letters with a creature that is carrying out the action associated with each letter of the alphabet. For example, "S stole it" sees a spider tugging away a web-enmeshed apple. This superb collection closes with an "Index of Titles and First Lines."
A book to be treasured as a well-read family keepsake and one which needs to be included in all libraries serving young children for its contents include the comfortably familiar along with the delightfully novel.
Dave Jenkinson, when not teaching courses in children's and YA literature in the Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba, would like to be reading nursery rhymes to his granddaughters.
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