|image source vintagechildrensbooks.com|
By Jean Conder Soule
Illustrated by Denman Hampson, published by Parents’ Magazine Press in 1964
Reprinted in 2007 by Dragonfly Books, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, with illustrations by George Booth
I am partial to tales written in verse, and this one is ingenious.
You can do nice things for animals - knit a kitten mittens, fit a fox with socks, make a goat a coat, or give a pig a wig…
“You could give a fish a dish
For her favourite seaweed stew;
Send three frogs some sailing togs
And a yachting cap or two.”
I can't stop marvelling at the choice of words – they rhyme perfectly and fit right in. I love how Soule adds an extra something to the refrain - 'A weasel will not like it, And teasing isn't nice' - each time.
A simple message cloaked in a fun story with cute creatures and cheeky children.
The then 4 yo’s words of wisdom a few pages into the book - “No one likes to be teased” and a very regretful (but less truthful) “I don’t even know how to tease.” So the next time his friend came complaining, I conjured up the book. It worked – both of them decided it’s more fun to be friends. And, surprise! The friend who has in the past said, “I don’t like reading all that much”, was giggling away and finishing lines for me!
A huge fan of nonsense verse in general and Dr. Seuss in particular, the resident four yo gave the book a thumbs-up and thinks publishing companies ought to make more books like these.
The perky pictures that go with the cute couplets and silly situations add to the charm of this book.
The book-finder fairy was kind to me at last year’s Bangalore book fair, where I spotted a copy of this 1964 classic illustrated by Denman Hampson at the bottom of a pile. The book has been reprinted in recent years; the new edition has illustrations by the New Yorker cartoonist George Booth. Amazon lets you take a peek. I prefer the original version, maybe I’m old-fashioned?