Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Three Picture Song Books

My Daddy Ate an Apple by Craig Smith, ill. Scott Tulloch, Scholastic NZ (includes CD with song)

After some discussion with colleagues, I’m identifying  
a new genre for this review blog (KidsBooksNZ). I’ve reviewed several picture song books previously and always felt I wasn’t evaluating them properly. Generally, they don’t match with one of the main traditional picture book criteria ie. requiring a skilfully written (and original) text for an adult to read to a child, usually in prose or poetry format. Text and illustration in traditional picture books enhance each other as part of the shared reading experience.

Music and song bring a new and significant element to the traditional text/illustrations format. They’re not better or worse than standard picture books - they’re just different. Picture song books will probably continue to be included with traditional picture books in both bookshops and libraries, but for the purposes of this review blog, I’ll be evaluating them differently.

Craig Smith’s song describes in hair-raising detail what happens when a zebra eats an apple containing a worm. Be warned - the conclusion contains scatological material which could result in a classroom meltdown. Scott Tulloch’s cartoon illustrations are bold, bright and hectic - children (boys particularly) of about four to seven will think they’re hilarious. This is definitely not a bedtime story!

ISBN 978 1 77543 200 5 $21 Pb with CD
She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain sung by the Topp Twins, ill. Jenny Cooper, Scholastic NZ (includes CD with song)

Well, it’s the old country song that we all know, but I suspect there are a few extra lyrics thrown in, eg. And we’ll all have cake and ice cream when she comes... This is the third picture song book from the Topp Twins (after There’s A Hole in My Bucket and Do Your Ears Hang Low?) and I’m sure it will be very popular. I can see this CD being kept in the car for travelling - but probably not the song book itself (beware carsickness...!). Jenny Cooper’s cartoon illustrations are great fun (shades of red-headed Annie-Get-Your-Gun), and the expressions on the faces of the dancing and instrument-playing animals are priceless.

ISBN 978 1 77543 172 5 $21 Pb with CD

The Twelve Days of Kiwi Christmas, ill. Myles Lawford, sung by Pio Terei, Maori lyrics by Kotuku and Te Okahurangi Tibble, Scholastic NZ (includes CD of song in English and Maori)

This song begins, On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me a meat pie from the local dairy... The accumulations carry on with a distinctly New Zealand flavour - two boogie boards, three white sheep, four sausage sizzles, five chocolate fish, six rugby players, seven Hobbit extras ... and so on. The main illustrations accompany the English text, while the Maori text has smaller versions. I googled the illustrator but couldn’t find any info apart from Facebook and LinkedIn entries, so I suspect this is his first picture song book. His cartoon illustrations (“created in Adobe Photoshop with a wacom tablet”) are colourful, modern, and a bit zany, focusing on three children and a dog who are enjoying the unusual bounty of the song. I see this song and book being enjoyed by primary-aged children rather than pre-schoolers.

ISBN 978 1 77543 167 1 $19.50 Pb with CD

Reviewed by Lorraine Orman 

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