The animals, counting theme and catchy tune make this song a perennial favorite with readers and creators alike, but the illustrations are what make any version stand out from the crowd—and this one does. By changing a few animals and key words, McDonald encourages readers not just to count her menagerie but to experience their textures, as well, both in the words she uses and in her paper collages. "Over in the meadow in the reeds on the shore, / Lived a spiky mother muskrat / And her little muskrats four." The mother muskrat is pictured leaping into the water, her individual paper spikes poking out from her body. Similarly treated are her bumpy toad, wooly sheep, smooth robin, fuzzy bee, furry mouse and hairy spider. Using painted papers in digital collage, the illustrator creates a quiltlike textured world for her animals, and many pages come complete with "stitches." Unfortunately, however, a few of her textures fail to make the leap from the page—the crow is not really shiny, the lizard's scales are painted on and "slippery" is a very difficult adjective to portray with paper. Backmatter includes a CD of the song (not heard), the sheet music for one verse, some facts about meadows and a short paragraph about each featured animal. Visually stunning if not always totally successful. (Picture book. 2-6)Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
McDonald's buoyant mixed-media artwork creates a cheerful meadow of colors, textures, and animals in this version of the traditional nursery rhyme. Patchwork sheep "bah!" with their mother, music notes swirl out of the beaks of young robins, and a family of nine lizards basks "by the old mossy gate." Bright colors, swooping shapes, and smiling animals make this an especially friendly vision of the great outdoors. Musical notation is included, as are light details about each animal (and meadows in general) and a CD with music performed by Susan Reed. Ages 3-6. (Apr.)[Page ]. Copyright 2010 PWxyz LLC