Sunday, December 18, 2011

Nursery rhyme comics: a collection that will delight kids (ages 7 - 12)

My students adore comic books, and we have just gotten a collection that is delighting them. Nursery Rhyme Comics is a collection of 50 nursery rhymes, each illustrated by a different cartoonist. It is a real treat, especially for kids who already read many comic books. I love the way this is bringing classic nursery rhymes back into the experiences of kids ages 7 to 12.
Nursery rhyme comics
edited by Chris Duffy
illustrated by 50 cartoonists
NY: First Second, 2011
ages 7 to 12
preview available from First Second
available at your local public library, favorite bookstore or on Amazon

nominated for the 2011 Cybils graphic novel award
With 50 nursery rhymes illustrated by an talented array of leading cartoonists, this book is a visual feast. Each cartoonist was asked by editor Chris Duffy to interpret a different nursery rhyme, one suited to their particular taste or style. The result is a humorous, often quirky collection of some old favorites and some lesser-known traditional rhymes.

Some pairings play off the cartoonists’ reputations - Nick Bruel, well-known for his Bad Kitty series illustrates “Three Little Kittens”, with the kittens ending up eating pie with messy delight.  Other artists lend thoroughly modern reinterpretations. Lucy Knisley sets “There Was an Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe” at “Ruth’s Rock & Roll Baby Sitting” where Ruth - a tattooed old rocker - entertains the children, inviting them to play with her band “The Whips” - and so finding a nice justification for the line “and whipped them all soundly” before she sent them to bed.

Each artist stays true to the traditional nursery rhyme, but they add their own twist and interpretation. I had great fun with Tao Nyeu's interpretation of Rock-a-Bye Baby. Take a look closely at the how the baby gets back at the wolf:

Other rhymes delighted children who didn't really know the full nursery rhyme. Many have heard of Tweedledee and Tweedledum, but I'm not sure many could tell you this nursery rhyme:

This collection will certainly draw in readers who already love comics - they will revel in the sheer variety of the different artwork, returning to look at it again and again. But the audience is not the traditional nursery rhyme audience of preschoolers and toddlers. Hand this to a 3rd, 4th or 5th grader and they will love the quirky, fresh illustrations, and delight in reading nursery rhymes they learned as little kids.

The review copy came from the Association of Children's Librarians, my local review group. It was kindly sent by First Second Books and Macmillan. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books (at no cost to you!). Thank you for your support.

Review ©2011 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books.


  1. Hi Mary Ann, I have a feeling that my daughter would love love love this book. I shall definitely look out for this one. :)

  2. Looks like I'm gonna have to break down and buy this one!

  3. Whatever gets them reading! This one sounds like it does the job :)