|The Selfish Crocodile Book of Nursery Rhymes by Faustin Charles and Michael Terry|
|Category: Children's Rhymes and Verse|
|Reviewer: Magda Healey|
|Summary: Classic nursery rhymes re-told to feature jungle animals. Good concept and great pictures, but only a few rhyme and scan as well as originals. Better borrowed than bought and mostly for animal-crazy children.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Maybe|
|Pages: 72||Date: September 2009|
|Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC|
The Selfish Crocodile has multiplied, so to speak, in this new picture book. The Selfish Crocodile Book of Nursery Rhymes features the friendly reptile and a multitude of other jungle animals in a modern (and jungle-adapted) re-telling of classic Mother Goose nursery rhymes.
Thus, we have the likes of: Hey diddle, diddle; The mouse in a puddle; The crocodile jumped over the moon; The green frog laughed to see such fun; And a fish swam away with a baboon, all illustrated with a Michael Terry's lively and engaging pictures.
The illustrations are the biggest asset of The Selfish Crocodile Book of Nursery Rhymes: firstly, the subject is beloved of most toddlers and preschoolers, and secondly, their bright colours and good level of detail (a bit but not too much) are just perfect for their perceptual abilities. There isn't anything especially striking or innovative, but they are dynamic, colourful and funny, and will certainly provide a lot of stimulus for the little ones.
As for the rhymes themselves, they are very uneven. Some of them lose a bit of the edge of the traditional versions (and thus pecked off her nose becomes pecked her on the nose, and the blind mice are now brave mice. But this slight bowdlerisation is just a minor niggle – after all it's not a job for picture books to introduce children to nature red in tooth and claw.
Quite frequently the lines don't rhyme particularly well or at all and Faustin Charles frequently resorts to replacing the originals' full rhymes with assonance, consonance, oblique and half-rhymes. It's not surprising as the traditional versions have been honed and perfected for years and it would be a hard task to replace them! A bigger problem is that the lines often don't scan well, distorting the rhythm of the verse which makes reading aloud either difficult (one needs to truncate the words or change stress) or clumsy-sounding.
Still, there are some great renditions: my favourite ones are probably Twinkle, twinkle, butterfly, old lion who lived under a hill and the true gem of old lioness who lived in a zoo.
The CD attached to the book, read by Faustin Charles, is a good addition and if you were contemplating buying this title I would strongly recommend going for this version with a CD.
A mixed bag, then, with at least four stars for the artwork and three for the text, averaging three and a half Bookbag stars. Probably better borrowed unless your child is totally animal-crazy and you are running out of new titles to get for them.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.
For another new take on some old nursery rhymes you might like to try Previously by Allan Ahlberg
You can read more book reviews or buy The Selfish Crocodile Book of Nursery Rhymes by Faustin Charles and Michael Terry at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Selfish Crocodile Book of Nursery Rhymes by Faustin Charles and Michael Terry at Amazon.com.
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