I’m always looking for good nursery rhyme books. I’ve yet to find one that lives up to my memory of my beloved childhood collection of Mother Goose rhymes (number two here), but I think this one might be one I can love almost as much. Over the Hills and Far Away: A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes is a collection by Elizabeth Hammill. Two things make this collection unusual: first, it is a collection of nursery rhymes from around the world. The U.S. and England (which is where most of the nursery rhymes I know by heart come from) are well-represented, but so are African, Latino, and Asian cultures. The other thing that makes this book an unadulterated delight to me is that each nursery rhyme is illustrated by a different children’s book illustrator; over seventy artists’ works are showcased here. See that beautiful cover art? It’s by none other than Pamela Zagarenski. Other artists whose works appear in this volume include Eric Carle, Lucy Cousins, Shirley Hughes, Pat Hutchins, Jerry Pinkney, Chris Raschka, Mo Willems, and Ed Young, just to name some of the ones more familiar to me. I should probably admit that this book hasn’t been an easy sell to the almost-five year old DLM. I want to read him nursery rhymes because I know how valuable they are (and I was the Nursery Rhyme Queen back on the scholars’ bowl team in my high school glory days 😉 ), but he’s not so convinced. I managed to hit upon a winner last night with “Jack and Jill” (illustrated most fetchingly by Helen Craig of Angelina Ballerina fame), and tonight I was able to read quite a few more before bed. I do think the variety of illustrations, from photographic collages to comic strips and everything in between, serves to pique even the most resistant listener’s curiosity. We give this one a Highly, Highly Recommended and look forward to adding it to our own collection. (Candlewick, 2014)
- gallery at The Guardian–lots of pictures!
- Seven Stories, the National Center for Children’s Books, located in the U.K. and co-founded by Elizabeth Hammill–I want to go here should I ever make it back across the Atlantic one day!