Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Review: Rhyme by William C. Marks

Illustrated by Erin E. Gennow

Tags: picture book, pigs, politics, rhymes

In the gorgeously dirty city of Muck, Rhyme--so named because that's all he speaks in--is elected Penator. In a series of stirring speeches reminiscent of famous political U.S. speeches, Rhyme transforms Muck into the muddiest and best place for pigs to live.

Rhyme is well-loved in his city, but he needs to go on an adventure. He catches a train to Joyville, where he immerses himself in studying, working, and interacting with humans. He misses the mud of Muck, however, but when he returns it is only to find that his rival, Ulysses S Grunt, has been elected Penator in Rhyme's absence and has cleaned all the streets up! Will Rhyme's charisma and love of dirt win out over the clean sullenness of Grunt?

It's been a while since I've read a picture book, but this one helped me remember how much fun they are. Children will be delighted with Rhyme's, well, rhyming speeches, and I'm sure there will be boys who can empathize with Rhyme's love of dirt. Adults will get a kick out of all the pig jokes so aptly illustrated by Gennow (need a book? Go to Boar-ders! The train departs from Pen Station). I'm going to give a special shout-out to Gennow's wonderful illustrations. She really brings the pigs to life and creates a fun, pig-inhabited world that will engage both children and adults. There are new things to look at on each page with every rereading.

However, I wanted to know a bit more about how Ulysses S Grunt takes over Muck and makes it... not Muck. So much emphasis was placed on Rhyme's journey in Joyville, and not enough on the conflict between the two rivals at the end. But that is a petty wish on my part. The story is sweet and uplifting.

Thanks to William Marks and Genesis Kobos for sending me this book to review.


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