Marigold Garden – Kate Greenaway

POINTS: 0 out of 10.

Bechdel: 0 point
Variety of characters: 0 points
Good story: 0 points.
Discretionary ideological points: o points.

This is the first book we’ve done that my son didn’t give a thumbs up. Later, he brought it back to me and said, “Mommy, let’s try it again.” And we did, but even on the second time through, after ten or so pages he said, “That’s enough.”

This is much like Mother Goose, except that these are rhymes that did not stand the test of time and are, for the most part, really not very good. Many of them don’t scan or make sense. I’d almost be inclined to say maybe it’s some kind of historical thing, that I am missing something, except that the 1001 Books blurb admits that the rhymes are “considered poor in terms of literary style”.

There is at least one where  two girls converse, but only one has a name, so it doesn’t even manage a technical Bechdel pass. A couple of them have implied dialogue between women, but nothing that made me want to give it this point.

There is one poem about how boys are boys and girls are girls and one can’t become the other which gave rise to a rather interesting conversation with C about why that isn’t actually true. Again, I can’t really give the book a point for it, since the conversation was all about why the book was wrong, but it is an interesting example of how even the most conservative texts can sometimes lead to interesting conversations with kids.

Overall though? Given I’m not that taken with Ms Greenaway’s illustration style, and this one doesn’t even have the benefit of rhymes that my kid enjoyed, and neither of us could really get through the whole thing, I couldn’t really find a redeeming factor here. I guess if you like the kind of twee lyrics and pictures of this sort of thing you may dig it. But me? I don’t think just because something is old that makes it worthwhile. There are plenty of way better books you could read your kids, on just about every level.


What do you think? Are you a Greenaway fan? Do you think I am full of codswollop? What are your favourite books of rhymes for children?