cover image There Was an Old Man--: A Gallery of Nonsense Rhymes

There Was an Old Man--: A Gallery of Nonsense Rhymes

Edward Lear. Morrow Junior Books, $15 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-688-10788-8

Technically unassailable and intermittently riotous, Lemieux's (What's That Noise?) watercolors only occasionally enhance the verses of the well-loved 19th-century wordsmith. Illustrating about 50 of Lear's limericks, the pictures sit primly on the page, symmetrically contained in rectangular borders or floated delicately amid negative space, and their mannerisms seem an effort to mime the droll artifices of the verse form. Her personal visions sometimes mesh with the loopiness of Lear's rhymes: for ``There was an Old Lady of Chertsey,/ Who made a remarkable curtsey... '' she draws a ballerina's tutu and legs as a screw about to spin into the ground. Other matches don't click, as when a blase-looking fellow personifies `That ecstatic Old Person of Tring.'' Given the sameness of the art and the formulaic quality of nonsense limericks, the volume risks repetitiousness unless taken in small doses. All ages. (Sept.)