Subtitled ‘Rhymes from around the World’, this collection of nursery rhymes draws on material from over 20 countries from India to Iceland, Samoa to Switzerland, Japan to Jamaica. However, it’s the sound of nursery rhymes – their rhythm, rhyme and metre (Polly Flinders among the cinders or Miss Muffet on her tuffet) that makes them so memorable to the young. It is a great pity then, that these vital elements of the original rhymes herein cannot be appreciated unless one is in the unlikely position of being a reader fluent in the many languages represented; it would have been great to have an accompanying CD.
The idea behind this collection is laudable but much as I wanted to like them, some of the rhymes in translation, particularly the Chinese one,
‘Little Monkey wants a friend,/Shakes hands with Little Pig;/Hand in hand, hand in hand,/Monkey walks with Piglet.
Little Pig wants a friend’…
sound as if they have been written in the vein of the worst kind of beginning reading material and few retain the joie de vivre of the originals. Fortunately Mique Moriuchi’s brightly coloured textured paint, cut out and collage illustrations lose nothing in translation.