Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Review - Peter Newell's Pictures and Rhymes

Peter Newell's Pictures and Rhymes
by Peter Newell
Date: 1903
Publisher: Harper & Brothers Publishers
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 122
Format: e-book
Source: Open Library

One day, the children find a bird lying on its side with its eyes closed and no heartbeat. They are very sorry, so they decide to say good-bye. In the park, they dig a hole for the bird and cover it with warm sweet-ferns and flowers. Finally, they sing sweet songs to send the little bird on its way.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

I really enjoyed The Rocket Book when I read it earlier this year, so I thought I'd see if I could find something else by Peter Newell. This is a collection of very short little poems (most are just a couple of lines) accompanied by illustrations.

The book is dated. Let's get that clear. There's a subtle undercurrent of sexism running throughout, as well as gender stereotypes. There's even one illustration where the characters are in blackface! Given that it was published in 1903, however, I can't exactly hold it to modern standards. When people know better, they do better.

Aside from the problematic verses, there are a lot that are quite amusing, and some illustrations that made me laugh a little bit. Many of the poems are rather silly, and there's little meaning behind most of them. But Newell's illustrations are fun to look at, and the poems are, for the most part, not bad.

If you're looking to include more old books to your bookshelf, you might want to check this one out. It's definitely a product of its time... but there are still a few gems that can be enjoyed by a modern audience.

Premise: 3/5
Meter: 3/5
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 3/5
Originality: 3/5

Enjoyment: 3/5

Overall: 3 out of 5

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