Tracey Campbell Pearson’s
Girls and Boys Come Out to Play

h1 April 27th, 2021 by jules

“Girls and boys come out to play …”
(Click spread to enlarge)


It’s good to see a new picture book that gives us a fresh look at Mother Goose rhymes — it’s not exactly a heyday now in the picture book world for traditional tales — and it’s also good to see a new book from Tracey Campbell Pearson (who is responsible for the very funny Bob and a handful of other well-crafted books).

I’m looking at an F&G of Tracey’s Girls and Boys Come Out to Play (Margaret Ferguson Books/Holiday House, April 2021), which is to say that not everything here is quite glued down. But it looks like the endpapers (both opening and closing) feature a short series of Mother Goose rhymes — “Hey, Diddle, Diddle”; “Humpty Dumpty”; “Jack and Jill”; and more. On the title page spread we see a young child reading a book of nursery rhymes, cat snuggling nearby and younger sibling on the floor, dozing next to the dog. And the next spread depicts nursery rhyme characters sitting on a brick wall. Will we see them throughout the book? On the opening spread (pictured above), there is the grand dame herself. Mother Goose stands on a rooftop. “Girls and boys come out to play,” we read.

So … by the time we’ve gotten to just the first spread, we know a lot: These are children who know their rhymes, and there’s the queen of all nursery rhymes herself. We’re in for an adventure.

The girl who had been reading her Mother Goose rhymes stares, dog at her side now, out the window at Mother Goose. “The moon doth shine as bright as day,” she tells the girl. In a series of vignettes on the following spread, we see a diverse group of children in the neighborhood leave their supper and leave their sleep, as the rhyme goes, “and come with your playfellows into the street.” Even the pets are joining in the fun. Look closely: Heading their way is Humpty Dumpty and the cat with the fiddle.

A kind of wild rumpus grows on tthe street, as the children revel in the company of Mother Goose. They go up the ladder and down the wall, as the rhyme would have it, and enter rolling fields. There can be seen Old King Cole; the three men in the tub; Little Boy Blue; and more. Some of the spreads are wordless; we don’t need hints that it’s Jack and Jill who fell down the hill. But children who have been exposed to their traditional rhymes (which is so, so good for them) will delight in these spreads and calling out the Mother Goose characters therein.

The story, paced just right with its rising and falling action (the children are ready for bed when the adventure is all done), feature Tracey’s softly colored pen-and-ink and watercolor illustrations. I love her relaxed lines and the spontaneity communicated. This is a lively tale, perfect for the young listener in your lap and just right for storytimes.

Here are some spreads. …


“Up the ladder …”
(Click spread to enlarge)


“… and down the wall.”
(Click spread to enlarge)


(Click spread to enlarge)


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GIRLS AND BOYS COME OUT TO PLAY. Illustrations copyright © 2021 by Tracey Campbell Pearson and reproduced by permission of the publisher, Margaret Ferguson Books/Holiday House, New York.

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