Title: Montmorency’s Book of Rhymes
Publisher: Kinza Press (2013)
Author: Mostly by T.J. Winter
Illustrator: Anne Yvonne Gilbert
This book review was a gracious contribution from Your Friendly Neighbourhood Librarian.
This children’s book is filled with rhymes of classic prose and plots revealing wonderful Muslim characters in engaging and interesting situations. Mr. Winter and Anne Yvonne Gilbert paid great attention to details to ensure that this work is timeless and its style stays true to the genre of classical children’s poetry books. This book is absolutely brilliant in regards to its illustrations, poetry, humour, ingenious use of different fonts and its imaginative word and letter placement.
The back cover of the book reads:
Join dear Montmorency as he indulges his sweet tooth, the Pasha of Salonica whose family fears for his health, Aisha Featherstone-Pugh who is having trouble with her ablutions, and the Masjid Mouse from Merry Lane who never forgets his prayers in this delightful collection of rhymes relayed in the style of the classics. Using rich vibrant language, T. J. Winter transports us to a scintillating world of unforgettable characters while Anne Yvonne Gilbert brings the rhymes to life through her heartwarming illustrations, ensuring this book its place as a treasured classic for children.
The book will build your vocabulary with words like forsooth and forfend. Mr. Winter uses both old English and common day slang like ‘aint’ in a completely seamless fashion. He has used the fonts in an incredibly creative manner to illustrate the meaning of the words, for example the word ‘bounced’ is written with its letters misaligned, appearing to bounce across the page and the word ‘sticky’ has the letters so close together that they are almost overlapping, as though, stuck to one another. The use of this technique will be a great tool for young children learning to read.
Muslim children will see themselves reflected in characters with names like Aisha and Maha. They will be able to relate to the Masjid Mouse who dances in the rain, sings, is adventurous, has friends from all over the world, and at the end of the day comes home to pray. The use of cross hatching to shade the illustrations further adds to the ambiance of the book as a timeless classic. The quality of the book itself is on par with those of Mother Goose rhyme books, if not surpassing it. It definitely lives up to its claim of being a treasured classic for children around the world, and not only that, but contributing with distinction to the British Muslim identity. I would love to see more books like this in the future!
A few of the rhymes in this book are of unknown authorship, something which Mr. Winter gracefully acknowledges on the cover of the book by having the authorship listed as ‘Mostly by T. J. Winter’. What a brilliant way to give others credit where it’s due. I pray Allah continues to give great success to Mr. Winter’s endeavours and look forward to seeing more of his works in this unique genre.