I read the whole of this 250-page book in quarter of an hour while waiting to pick up my grandson from school, but that is scarcely surprising as it is mostly pictures with not a lot of words. It is aimed at adults reading to pre-school children, and it has the right balance of content for adults to read and children to see.It starts with fifty pages of the best known nursery rhymes, followed by nearly forty pages of Christmas carols (described as ‘festive songs’). There are then over fifty pages of short stories about ponies, monsters, pirates and princesses (all new to me and the weakest part of the book in my view), and the book ends with over fifty pages of five well-known stories such as Jack and the Beanstalk. Some of the nursery rhymes were slightly different from those I was brought up on, and the version of Little Red Riding Hood was closer to the Thurber version than the grisly original. No complaints about that.
The overall impression is of a cheerful book, packed with variety, with some very nice illustrations by a variety of artists (Anja Rieger my favourite). It is well bound with a heavy cover and it should withstand little fingers pointing at pictures. It is the sort of book which every play group, every nursery and a lot of parents should have.
This book is a twin to go with the history of the Pre-School Learning Alliance reviewed by Valerie Jackson in this issue. Brought out by the Alliance to celebrate their Golden Jubilee, the foreword is called Belle’s Big Idea and it tells in simple language how the organisation got going. It is a nice story in itself and is written for children to understand.
Pre-school Learning Alliance (2011) 50 Favourite Stories and Rhymes
Ladybird Books, London
ISBN 978 – 1- 40931 – 225 – 3