cover image To Market, to Market

To Market, to Market

Anne Miranda. Harcourt Children's Books, $17 (36pp) ISBN 978-0-15-200035-6

In this clever riff on the old nursery rhyme, ""To market, to market, to buy a fat pig,"" a plump matron makes a series of increasingly calamitous purchases of animals at the supermarket. Hungry and cranky after the raucous menagerie turns her house topsy-turvy, the lady (who is dressed in a deliciously kitschy ensemble) wisely decides to make vegetable soup instead. Stevens (Tops & Bottoms) creates collages from mundane-looking b&w photographs of settings and objects by superimposing on them dynamic mixed media portraits of the heroine and her animal retinue. The skillfully wielded visual anarchy explodes off the page. As the catalyst and brunt of the mess, the would-be chef gets a full comic workout (in one illustration, the animals push her to the market as she slumps, dazed and utterly frazzled, in a grocery cart), but the audience also will sense the illustrator's genuine affection for her heroine's indomitable spirit. Miranda's (Night Songs) rhyming text (set in playful typography, with red boldface for emphasis) does an unobtrusive job of pushing the boundaries of the original rhymes, with verses like these: ""To market, to market, for one stubborn goat. The duck flew the coop and the goat ate my coat!"" But some may find the writer's repeated use of ""Uh-oh!"" to mark each new calamity cloying (perhaps because it seems an unlikely interjection from such a distinctive-looking heroine). Still, this is one market trip children will wish to take again and again. Ages 4-8. (Oct.)