cover image Hurry Hurry Mary Dear

Hurry Hurry Mary Dear

N. M. Bodecker. Margaret K. McElderry Books, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-689-81770-0

Blegvad wittily refreshes his late friend and collaborator's waggish poem about a hardworking, much-put-upon wife and her hortatory husband with this masterfully illustrated edition. As he mentions in a foreword, Blegvad models his Mary on the pen-and-ink version drawn by Bodecker himself in his nonsense collection Hurry, Hurry, Mary Dear! (reissued in 1987 and still in print); Blegvad, however, works in watercolors, splendidly reproduced here with a limpid clarity. The heroine, Mary, is a reedy woman. Her nose has a shape that would not be out of place on a snowman, and her white hair is tucked tidily into a bun--at least as the verse begins. Her husband delivers all the lines: ""Not a minute to be lost,/ in a minute we get frost!/ In an hour we get snow!/ Drifts like houses! Ten below!"" He puts Mary through her (nonstop) paces as the rhythms escalate: ""Churn the butter, smoke the hams,/ Can tomatoes, put up jams."" In the company of a black cat, Mary toils inside and outside her well-appointed home, oiling snowshoes, stoking fires, attending to sometimes ludicrous tasks (she ""strings the beans"" by hanging them on a clothesline). With each pause in the verse, Mary sags, her hair unraveling, her shoulders stooping, but she rallies with each new volley of rhyme. Of course, the husband, lolling in a rocking chair, gets his due in the end; what readers get is an absolute treat, two consummate artists making the most of a good joke. Ages 7-up. (Oct.)