(Graphic) Book Review: Nursery Rhyme Comics

Honestly, I wasn’t sure what I would think of this collection of traditional nursery rhymes re-imagined by 50 graphic novelists. But I trust the First Second Books to do interesting things, and so, I sat down with my youngest son to give Nursery Rhyme Comics a look. Well, it certainly is interesting and slightly off-kilter and fun, too. My son and I were giggling as we read together.

As Leonard S. Marcus notes in his introduction to this witty graphic collection, “The comics we discover in these pages are new-made fantasies spun from the whole cloth of fantasies we thought we knew, the old-chestnut rhymes that beguile in part by sounding so emphatically clear about themselves while in fact leaving everything to our imagination.”

That’s for sure.

There is whimsy here, and lovely artwork from artists such as Roz Chast and Gene Yang and Richard Thompson and Jules Feiffer, and the stories that unfold in the graphics here enhance or even replace the traditional nursery rhymes. Let 50 graphic novels and comic artists run amok with tradition and what you get is a chaotic wonderment such as Nursery Rhyme Comics. Each “story” is only a page or two — no more than three — and it’s hard to believe that the artist’s style could be established in such a short amount of time, but it is.

I’m not sure who the audience is for this collection but I imagine some elementary students would get a kick of the re-envisioning of traditional nursery rhymes (some of which I had never even heard and had a difficult time singing to my son — I had made up plenty of my own melodies — somehow, I don’t think the artists here would mind all that much).

Peace (in the frames),



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