Monday, 9 March 2015

Little Bo Peep and more... book review

Little Bo Peep and more...

Book review by Trevor Agnew

Little Bo Peep and more…  (2014) Trad, ill. Donovan Bixley, Upstart Press, Auckland NZ, 32 pages, paperback  ISBN 978 1 927262 08 5   

This attractive picture book contains the text of four nursery rhymes:

Little Bo Peep
Baa, baa, Black Sheep
Mary Had a Little Lamb
Little Boy Blue

Because each of these rhymes concerns sheep, illustrator Donovan Bixley has put them into a distinctively New Zealand setting. Using the same witty double-page colour spreads he employed in The Wheels on the Bus (2010) and Old MacDonald’s Farm (2011), Bixley provides amusing animals, unusual people and intriguing details to complement the familiar rhymes.

Black Sheep’s wool becomes a rugby jersey, Bo Peep’s sheep drive tractors, Boy Blue’s horn is on the handles of his bicycle and Mary’s lamb even follows her to ballet classes. Sharp-eyed young readers will fall asleep as they count the sheep (some of whom play chess, climb mountains and fly planes) or search for the pukeko (swamp hen) and mouse concealed in each illustration. Best of all are Bixley’s special touches; look carefully at the bathtub legs, the tractor bonnet, the side of the trailer and the pedestrian crossing!

The endpapers feature thirty highly imaginative sheep activities, ranging from pianoforte to cricket. Little Bo Peep and more… is a gleeful celebration of the eternal appeal of nursery rhymes. It is also children’s book illustration at its best

Trevor Agnew 

16 Oct 2014  

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