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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Nursery Rhyme Comics is a surprisingly comprehensive collection of most of the great rhymes I loved as a child, plus a couple I had never heard of. Each rhyme is given fresh treatment by one of fifty well known artists. They range from from the incredible cuteness of the donkey lifting his horn "To wake the world this sleepy morn" so expertly portrayed by Patrick McDonnell, to Lucy Knisley's decidedly different visual take on There Was and Old Woman Who Lived in A Shoe. The old woman in this version is Ruth of Ruth's Rock n Roll Babysitting Service. Ruth is an old woman wearing a skull t-shirt and sporting tattoos on both arms. Her rock band is the whips, and the kids sleep off an afternoon of rock and roll till their parents come and pick them up.

Quite a few of the comics are faithful interpretations of each rhyme, such as The Itsy Bitsy Spider. There's a spider, there's a spout and he gets all washed out, the only addition is that he's carrying luggage. Cute stuff! Jack Be Nimble is mad because he jumped over a candlestick - the last frame shows a decidedly red bottom! Solomon Grundy is a bit creepy, and Croak said the Toad is just beautifully illustrated by Laura Park. I especially liked One Two Buckle My Shoe by Dave Roman. It's count the clones time! I have far too many favorites to describe them all, but whether they are straightforward interpretations, or if the artist has placed a new spin on the old rhyme, these are all wonderful ways to introduce a child who may be somewhat older to some classic rhymes they might have missed out on during their toddler days.

This is a great book for any child's personal collection and will perhaps be best suited for households with a wide range of ages. Some of these will charm the smallest child and others will need an older eye to fully appreciate the sly humor. Adults will get a kick out of this one as well, making it a book sure to be enjoyed by the entire family. Out of all fifty rhymes, I could only count one or two that missed the mark,leaving this to be an excellent volume just teeming with creative, fun artistry. It's nice to see the classics get a breath of fresh air and a new look. Recommended.
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VINE VOICEon September 29, 2011
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I don't have young children anymore, but I do teach Gifted and Talented students from 1st through 5th grade. I ordered this book, because we study innovations in 5th grade, so I though this book would fit right in. The combination of popular Nursery Rhymes with comic book style illustrations was a hit with my students. They now understand what the term "innovation" means, as well as what a "parody" is. My students were reciting the classic nursery rhymes as I read the book out-loud and laughing at the whimsical illustrations. Some of their favorites were "Three Little Kittens," "Rock-a-bye Baby," "Pop Goes the Weasel," and "Humpty Dumpty," but they laughed especially hard when we read "Jack be Nimble." My next activity will be to have the students create their own innovations on a popular fairy tale of their choice. I can't wait to see what my highly creative students come up with.
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Nursery rhymes. What's up with that? (I feel like a stand up comedian when I put it that way). They're ubiquitous but nonsensical. Culturally relevant but often of unknown origins. Children's literary scholar Leonard Marcus ponders the amazing shelf life of nursery rhymes himself and comes up with some answers. Why is it that they last as long as they do in the public consciousness? Marcus speculates that "the old-chestnut rhymes that beguile in part by sounding so emphatically clear about themselves while in fact leaving almost everything to our imagination" leave themselves open to interpretation. And who better to do a little interpreting than cartoonists? Including as many variegated styles as could be conceivably collected in a single 128-page book, editor Chris Duffy plucks from the cream of the children's graphic novel crop (and beyond!) to create a collection so packed with detail and delight that you'll find yourself flipping to the beginning to read it all over again after you're done. Mind you, I wouldn't go handing this to a three-year-old any time soon, but for a certain kind of child, this crazy little concoction is going to just the right bit of weirdness they require.

Fifty artists are handed a nursery rhyme apiece. The goal? Illustrate said poem. Give it a bit of flair. Put in a plot if you have to. So it is that a breed of all new comics, those of the nursery ilk, fill this book. Here at last you can see David Macaulay bring his architectural genius to "London Bridge is Falling Down" or Roz Chast give "There Was a Crooked Man" a positive spin. Leonard Marcus offers an introduction giving credence to this all new coming together of text and image while in the back of the book editor Chris Duffy discusses the rhymes' history and meaning. And as he says in the end, "We're just letting history take its course."

In the interest of public scrutiny, the complete list of artists on this book consists of Nick Abadzis, Andrew Arnold, Kate Beaton, Vera Brosgol, Nick Bruel, Scott Campbell, Lilli Carre, Roz Chast, JP Coovert, Jordan Crane, Rebecca Dart, Eleanor Davis, Vanessa Davis, Theo Ellsworth, Matt Forsythe, Jules Feiffer, Bob Flynn, Alexis Frederick-Frost, Ben Hatke, Gilbert Hernandez, Jaime Hernandez, Lucy Knisley, David Macaulay, Mark Martin, Patrick McDonnell, Mike Mignola, Tony Millionaire, Tao Nyeu, George O'Connor, Mo Oh, Eric Orchard, Laura Park, Cyril Pedrosa, Lark Pien, Aaron Renier, Dave Roman, Marc Rosenthal, Stan Sakai, Richard Sala, Mark Siegel, James Sturm, Raina Telgemeier, Craig Thompson, Richard Thompson, Sara Varon, Jen Wang, Drew Weing, Gahan Wilson, Gene Luen Yang, and Stephanie Yue (whew!). And as with any collection, some of the inclusions are going to be stronger than others. Generally speaking if fifty people do something, some of them are going to have a better grasp on the process than others. That said, only a few of these versions didn't do it for me. At worst the versions were mediocre. At best they went in a new direction with their material without getting too crazy. Nick Bruel, for example, does a great "Three Little Kittens", filling it with pie-obsessed felines, while Craig Thompson gives his "The Owl and the Pussycat" a kind of John Steed/Emma Peel flair.

The artist couldn't necessarily agree on who the intended audience was either. Amazon, interestingly enough, lists this book as intended for "Baby-Preschool" readers. Um . . . yeah, probably not so much. Though some of these rhymes would be just fine for that age range if you read them aloud, but others just aren't going to go over with the ankle biter set. Of course, there's not a lot of consistency from one rhyme to another. You might read Lucy Knisley's "There Was an Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe" where Knisley has justified the line "Then whipped them all soundly" by making the kids play the instruments of the Old Lady's now defunct band "The Whips" (it's a bit of a stretch, I know) then follow that up with the Eleanor Davis poem "The Queen of Hearts" which takes the line "And beat the knave full sore" and pretty much does just that. Or you might see Raina Telegemeier's highly innocent "Georgie Porgie" followed up with Mike Mignola (the creator of Hellboy) and his dark mannequin-laden contemplation of mortality in "Solomon Grundy". The tone shifts about a bit. That's not a problem for a nine or ten-year-old capable of enjoying the dichotomies but for a kid learning them for the first time it's going to be just too much.

The choice of artists to include must have been fun. Some of these illustrators aren't your standard go-to comic book creators for kids either. For example, Tony Millionaire has spent the better part of his professional life inspiring my nightmares with his alternative strip MAAKIES while I associate Gahan Wilson best with his New Yorker comics more than anything else. Other artists are part of the First Second family, like Gene Yang or Sara Varon. And then there are folks that editor Chris Duffy must have taken a chance on. Kate Beaton, creator of the hilarious and brilliant online strip Hark! A Vagrant shines here with her "Duke of York". Meanwhile Cul de Sac creator Richard Thompson gets to shine with his own "There Was an Old Woman Tossed Up in a Basket". Finally, there are the picture book illustrators like Tao Nyeu or Marc Rosenthal who fit in so well you'd never imagine comics weren't their first love. Personally, I hope that maybe a graphic novel is in their own futures someday.

The advantage of having such a deep well of artists to pull from is that you can usually find folks to fit your own tastes. Personally I felt that Cyril Pedrosa's "This Little Piggy" and "The Lion and the Unicorn" by Aaron Renier were worthy of their own, albeit very short, books. And then there are the visual styles one prefers. I liked it the most when artists referenced some of the great illustrators of the past. Theo Ellsworth's "As I Was Going to St. Ives", for example, seems clearly influenced by Wanda Gag's Millions of Cats, for example. And I can attest that it is a sheer delight to read a book of this sort in full color. From Cyril Pedrosa's hot pink borders to Dave Roman's penchant for purple, this book just wouldn't be the same if the publisher hadn't splurged on a couple shades and tones here and there.

Of course the danger of a book like this is that the reader gets greedy. A mere fifty artists? Couldn't they get Harry Bliss, Jeff Smith, Art Spiegelman, Barry Deutsch, Hope Larson, yadda yadda yadda? Give people something awesome and they'll always find a way to kvetch and demand more. Nursery Rhyme Comics deserves better than that, and will hopefully find its way onto many a child's shelf. And it pairs rather splendidly with a similar collection of American Indian folktales illustrated by a range of graphic novelists called Trickster. If, however, you'd like to pair this book with its literary opposite (authors paired with a single piece of art rather than artists paired with a single short text) consider placing it alongside the fabulous The Chronicles of Harris Burdick with art by Chris Van Allsburg. There are as many way to pair and display and talk up this book as there are artists inside of it. Likewise, there are as many ways to read and enjoy this book as there are children out there who would get a kick out of its pages. Whether they're reading familiar rhymes or discovering new ones, Nursery Rhyme Comics gives kids everywhere a new way of encountering some essential cultural touchstones. Great good stuff.

For ages 9-12.
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on January 13, 2016
This is a great book! I have purchased this for my old kids and other people's kids because it has the typical old nursery rhymes, but with neat illustration by various comic book artists. There are a lot of different styles of art, and it keeps things interesting. The book itself is good quality, with a hard cover.

There is another title that we also got called Fairytale Comics. It's the same type of book - old stories with new comic book style illustrations. We liked it also, but the nursery rhyme book is my favorite.
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VINE VOICEon October 1, 2011
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Here's a way to enjoy nursery rhymes no matter what your age. "Nursery Rhyme Comics" is a lovely hardcover book (w/ dust jacket) that brings together 50 known cartoonists to illustrate 50 famous nursery rhymes in their own unique styles. Some give quite literal illustrations, while others take things in a completely original direction. All present something fun and curious to read though, with fantastic and fanciful drawings on every page. Great if you have kids, but even if you don't. I picked this one because I'm a cartoonist who has contributed to gathered efforts like this myself, and because I can't think of a more preferred way to read Nursery Rhymes than in a comic book format. If you're a fan of the "Big Book" series like "The Big Book of Grimm" or "The Big Book of Urban Legends", then this is a great nursery rhyme collection for you. 119 pages that include a fine introduction, editor's note, and a much appreciated contributors' section.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon September 28, 2011
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
A Wonderful Nursery Rhyme book for little kids and adults too!

While I usually review books on music and entertainment (along with selected children's books), this volume came from Amazon's Vine Reviewer program. I'm so glad it did, since I was not aware of this publisher - First Second - before.

Editor Chris Duffy - who, for some strange reason, is not listed on the cover or the title page - commissioned 50 cartoonists/graphic artists to provide illustrated versions of 50 "timeless" nursery rhymes and compiled them in the colorful hardbound book. What sounds simple - and almost boring - isn't! The artists range from cartoon legends like Jules Feiffer and the New Yorker's Roz Chast to newer artists who are involved in graphic novels. And, while the words to nursery rhymes like "There was an old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe...", the artists - in this case Lucy Krisley - create images you don't usually think of when you hear the rhyme. For "Old Woman.." Krisley gives us a Woodstock era "earth mother" with her brood of "hippies". Look at "Three Blind Mice" (illustrated by Richard Sala). Why did the three mice "run after the farmer's wife"? (Could it just be that she baked a tasty cake and they were hungry? I won't spoil the fun of discovering the others.

What makes this book so wide-ranging in interest is that parents can read the rhymes to their little children (and laugh at the graphics), the children can read for themselves as they get older, as teens (as they get into graphic novels) they can enjoy them again and, finally, when they become parents they can share with the their "little ones". (The "circle of life" so to speak!).

I do plan to check out more books from First Second, based on this volume.

Highly recommended to folks of "all ages"

Steve Ramm
"Anything Phonographic"
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on November 26, 2011
You would think with so many different books of nursery rhymes in existence that there wouldn't be space for yet another one. But you'd be wrong. First Second has hist the mark with this book that's sure to be a new classic. They've gathered 50 of the best artists in the world to put their own unique twists on these old tales. The artists range from Patrick McDonnell (creator of Mutts) to Very Brosgol (Anya's Ghost) to Mike Mignola (Hellboy) to my personal favorite (Lucy Knisley (French Milk.) Each artists takes the classic text of a nursery rhyme and adds thier own interpretation to it. For example, Lucy takes on "There Was and Old Woman Who Lived in A Shoe." In this reality the old woman really an aging rocker that runs a day care and when she whips the children, well Whips is the name of her band and she and the kids are whipping up some good music till they fall asleep. And there are so many more it's hard to pick the best.

Each artist brings their own unique talents and style of interpreting these rhymes and all of them are absolutely fantastic. This is the perfect book for any age as its sure to put a smile on the young and the young at heart. I highly recommend this book as a great addition to any shelf.
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on August 24, 2015
Absolutely adorable collection of amazing comic interpretations of classic nursery rhymes. I give this at baby showers now. So much talent in one book. Some of my favorite illustrators have lent their skills and the result is an eclectic collection of comics that is great to read to the kids or read as an adult.
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VINE VOICEon September 29, 2011
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Nursery Rhyme books have been printed and printed again. A beloved classic to enjoy with kids of all ages. But this is truly unique. Told in a comic book, almost graphic novel sort of way. It's a great way to bring the nursery rhymes to life again. There were even stories in here I never heard, or forgot about. The illustrations were just awesome. Bright, colorful, hilarious. Just a gem of a book. My 5 year old twins just adored reading this. We did it several times, and they both have sat down to read to themselves. I also love that it's a hardcover. A wonderful gift idea or baby shower present.
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on April 5, 2015
I bought this for my daughter for Easter. I found it from a list of comic books for children. Some of the nursery rhymes are little dark, as are some images, but that is how they were written. I didn't believe any were inappropriate, but then I have a dark sense of humor my little one shares. My daughter is four and she really likes the book. Just a year or so ago I was looking for a nursery rhyme book for her and I bought a few but haven't been thrilled with them. I like this one because it has almost every rhyme you could want as well as interesting illustrations. Each rhyme is illustrated by a different person so each one has its own unique style. I would reccommend this for parents who love comics and want to share this with their children, or those who want a complete collection with most nursery rhymes.
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