Monday, April 9, 2012

Nursery Rhyme Comics

Booklist starred (November 15, 2011 (Vol. 108, No. 6))

Preschool-Grade 3. Having 50 of the finest cartoonists draw simple nursery rhymes, each no more than two or three pages long, is such a crazy move that it’s borderline genius. The ridiculously deep pool of talent here includes those who work in kids’ comics circles (Eleanor Davis, Gene Luen Yang, Raina Telgemeier) and those more known in the indie scene (Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez, Tony Millionaire, Kate Beaton). Illustrating these near-nonsensical rhymes allows the artists all kinds of creative license. Some toy around with the original, like James Sturm’s “Jack Be Nimble,” in which Jack admonishes the reader for suggesting he do anything as foolish as jumping over a lit flame, only to turn away and reveal a scorched bum. Others play it more straight with equally splendid results, such as Craig Thompson’s sumptuous take on “The Owl and the Pussycat.” This collection is a truly dual-purpose book: the dizzying array of visual styles will delight kids encountering these nursery rhymes for the first time, while the great versatility of the medium will make the familiar fresh again for their parents. As if all that weren’t enough of a bounty, the esteemed Leonard S. Marcus provides a characteristically illuminating introduction. A can’t-miss treasure chest for any collection.

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