Grumbles from the Town: Mother-Goose Voices with a Twist

YOLEN, Jane & . illus. by Angela Matteson. 40p. Calkins Creek. Sept. 2016. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781590789223.
Gr 2–4—A nice size for group read-alouds, this collection is similar to Yolen and Dotlich's first book of twists on nursery rhymes, Grumbles from the Forest. Here, the townsfolk have their say. The original rhymes are found in the endpapers and include many that are well known. There are 14 rhymes in all, with each poet writing one poem per nursery rhyme—with the exception of the last poem, "Three Blind Mice," a collaboration. At the book's beginning there is a "Dear Reader" letter that explains perspective and invites readers to create their own verses. The imaginative poems can tickle the funny bone: Yolen creates a Humpty Dumpty who excels as the class clown and is accident-prone, while Dotlich makes the entire Dumpty family out to be a bunch of "mischievous eggs" who are often in a scrape because they are "always in places/they shouldn't be." Many of Matteson's illustrations are spreads that use soft pastel colors and full-faced cartoon characters.
VERDICT While the artwork in the first anthology was more evocative, the images here are effective but on the cute side. Still, an excellent choice for writing workshops and classroom prompts.

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