Reviews of children's and young adult books old and new

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Famous Song, Bad Grammar

All God's Critters Song by Bill Staines Pictures by Kadir Nelson

A new picture songbook from Simon & Schuster that takes us through the choir of animals. There is one phrase that is repeated a few times in the book and it goes like this, "All God's Critters got a place in the choir-some sing low, some sing higher, some sing out loud on the telephone wire, and some just clap their hands, or paws, or anything they got. Now..." After that we learn about which parts the animals sing and how they like to perform their parts. This is a song that has been around for awhile and now we are getting some illustrations to go along with the lyrics.

I am torn about this book. I love the illustrations but the bad grammar is irking me. I feel that children at a young age need to have proper grammar modeled for them, they need to hear things that are worded correctly rather than something that fits into a folk song context. I think this bugs me so much because of my teacher training. It is hard to let that training go and embrace this book for what it is, a cute song that will hopefully teach children about different animals. As I said before the illustrations are wonderful. On every page there are so many little details to discover about each animal. Nelson does a great job of giving the animals personality. The drawings have a cartoon feel without being too far off from what the animal actually looks like. The animals are all very round and as such give them a very friendly feeling. At the end of the book there is the sheet music to the song, so if you can plunk out the tremble on a piano you and your young reader(s) can sing the song. I think in the end I must say that is a good book, despite my reservations about modeling improper grammar to new readers/listeners. I would recommend for children 2-4.

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