Honey for You, Honey for Me: A First Book of Nursery Rhymes

Candlewick. Mar. 2021. 80p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781536212730.
PreS–Rosen, writing about what drove him to put together this collection, looked back on all the anthologies he’s collected, and wanted the less familiar nursery rhymes to have their day. So readers who know “Hickory, dickory, dock,” may be glad to come across “Here am I, Little Jumping Joan; When nobody’s with me, I’m all alone.” Or “Jerry Hall, He is so small, A rat could eat him, Hat and all.” And “Polly, Dolly, Kate and Molly, All are filled with pride and folly. Polly tattles; Dolly wriggles; Katy rattles; Molly giggles.” Riddell’s illustrations, in soft lines and confetti colors, are a pure celebration of stuffed animals, dolls, tiny beings and large face-offs (Jerry Hall and the rat). The problem may be that the joy of nursery rhymes is in their familiarity and how they have been passed to readers, through adults harking back for sources of entertainment, or in preschool games. The Itsy-Bitsy Spider resonates for children because of the finger game that goes with it. Ring-Around-the-Rosy makes sense because of the playground game that can be as complicated or simple as the players wish.
VERDICT A sterling collection, these exist as archaic bits of language that we save which are no longer attached to a meaning. Important to the canon, this may have a home on reference shelves more than in picture book collections.

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