Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Great Read-alouds for Little Listeners: NIBBLE NIBBLE

I guess most of us in the kidlitosphere are well versed in the books of Margaret Wise Brown—especially GOODNIGHT MOON, THE RUNAWAY BUNNY, and THE IMPORTANT BOOK.

Today I’d like to talk about a book of poetry Brown wrote entitled NIBBLE NIBBLE. The original edition, illustrated by Leonard Weisgard, was published in 1959. The book was reissued in 1998.


Written by Margaret Wise Brown
Paintings by Wendell Minor

Now...along comes another edition of NIBBLE NIBBLE illustrated by Wendell Minor—and it is absolutely lovely! It includes just five of the poems from the original book: Song of the Bunnies, Nibble Nibble Nibble, The Rabbit Skip, Song of Summer, and Cadence. These poems are perfect for sharing with a little someone you love: They have an abundance of rhythm and refrains—and rhymes aplenty. The book’s large font and uncluttered art let the poems breathe on the pages and Minor’s illustrations definitely enhance and bring new life to Brown’s text.


Here comes a bunny
The first to stray
Out of April
And into May.

The illustration that accompanies this first stanza and the second stanza of Song of Summer is set against a white background. The two-page spread of a bunny looking at a robin in flight with its wings outspread above a garden of bright pink tulips is perfect in its simplicity. The next two-page spread, which illustrates the last two stanzas of the poem, takes us into a dreamy summer evening and a deepening blue sky alight with glowing fireflies. Here we see a bunny from the back as it gazes out over a meadow of timothy grass and Brown-eyed Susans while the lightning bugs float in the sky like little falling stars.

Here are the fireflies
Last to remember
The end of August
And first of September.

There’s also a close-up of a milkweed plant with a monarch caterpillar creeping along on one leaf and a monarch chrysalis hanging from another.

And here comes a caterpillar
The last to creep
Out of summer
And into sleep.

One great feature of this book is the use of different colors of text in three of the poems.

Here’s an example from NIBBLE NIBBLE NIBBLE:

Nibble Nibble Nibble
Goes the mouse in my heart
Nibble Nibble Nibble
Goes the mouse in my heart
Nibble Nibble Nibble
Goes the mouse in my heart
And the mouse in my heart is

The different colors make these poems perfect for reading/reciting in two voices—those of a parent and a child. A parent could teach his/her child the words that are printed in pink (Hop Skip Jump) or blue (Flippity Flippity Flop) or orange (Zoom Zoom Zoom). After a time, the parent and child could take turns reading/reciting their parts of the poems while snuggled on a chair or cuddled on a bed before lights out. What could be better than sharing a book like this—a book with poems and pictures that a young child will, no doubt, want to return to again and again?

Wendell Minor’s bunnies, mice, and the fox in NIBBLE NIBBLE are adorable, charming, sweet—and realistic. His are not cutesy cartoon-style art animals. I am a big fan of Minor’s art—and I think this is one of his best-illustrated books to date! From beginning to end NIBBLE NIBBLE is one great book to look at and to read aloud to—and with—little listeners.

Recommendations: NIBBLE NIBBLE is a wonderful book to give to the parents of a newborn. It would also make a fine gift for Easter giving.

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