Premise: What happens when you take fifty of today’s cartoonists and you have them interpret and illustrate fifty classic nursery rhymes? You get a collection like this of reimagined stories for people of all ages.
You’ll see familiar stories such as Hey, Diddle Diddle, Little Boy Blue, and Jack and Jill, along with not so familiar (at least to me) such as The Donkey and For Want of a Nail, but each one puts a fresh spin on a classic story in only a few frames.
Themes: Many classic nursery rhymes have themes of doing right and fearing punishment for wrongdoing, political satire, and propaganda. While this is true for some, most are rhymes either spoken or set to music simply to help children go to sleep. Rhymes and music can also help children with reasoning and learning ability, helping to improve math and reading skills.
Pros: At first I thought this would just be another book of nursery rhymes, but as I flipped through the pages I realized the work and artistry that went into each story. Some of the stories, such as Hector Protector, took four lines of source material and elaborated it into an even more interesting story than I would have ever thought. Many of the rhymes are reinvented, such as the clones of One, Two, Buckle My Shoe or the rock band babysitting of There Was An Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe. Others, such as The Itsy Bitsy Spider, were straightforward illustrations of the nursery rhyme we already know. Quite a few of the stories were funny, and every page is pretty.
Cons: A few of the stories have language that will be difficult to understand for young readers, and in some cases, as with The Owl and the Pussycat, the changes in language over time can be confusing or vulgar by today’s standings without the appropriate explanation. In at least one story, Jack Be Nimble, there is a word that I wouldn’t want my child saying (stupid).
Recommendations: I found Nursery Rhyme Comics to be a visually stunning collection of humorous and inspiring interpretations of classic rhymes for people of all ages. I think I enjoyed it even more than my son. A few of the stories might be a little more mature than intended, using language that is either inappropriate or antiquated, but discerning parents can easily skip over them or help younger readers understand them better. I am glad this book is in our home to be read as my children grow, but also so I can enjoy these stories with them. I love this collection. Do yourself and your family a favor and get a copy to read to your kids before bed.