cover image Miss Muffet, or What Came After

Miss Muffet, or What Came After

Marilyn Singer, illus. by David Litchfield. Clarion, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-547-90566-2

It’s possible to turn a four-line nursery rhyme into an elaborate period verse drama—Singer (Echo Echo) proves it, framing this elegant makeover as a theatrical production, complete with stage directions and musical numbers. Mrs. Muffet wants daughter Patience to be more ladylike, her husband wishes she shared his passion for etymology, but Patience dreams of playing the violin. The famous meeting on the tuffet startles Patience, but Webster the spider proves an unexpected ally. The two leave home, form a trio with Bo-Peep (an aspiring fiddler), foil a pair of thieves (“Prepare yourselves to meet your enemy,” Webster threatens, “You will find me rather venomy”), and finish with an impromptu performance for King Cole. Faced with a plethora of characters with speaking lines (and quite a few lines at that), Litchfield (The Bear and the Piano) keeps the cast straight and the action easy to read, and his rich, mixed-media illustrations and period costumes strike the right light-opera note. Webster and Patience are engaging heroes, and Singer’s verse sparkles. Ages 6–9. [em]Illustrator’s agent: Anne Moore Armstrong, Bright Group. (Sept.) [/em]