________________ CM . . . . Volume XIII Number 2 . . . .September 15, 2006


The Little Crooked House.

Margaret Wild. Illustrated by Jonathan Bentley.
Vancouver, BC: Simply Read Books, 2006.
40 pp., cloth, $19.95.
ISBN 1-894965-59-0.

Preschool-grade 1 / Ages 2-6.

Review by Myra Junyk.

*** ˝ /4



Once, there was a crooked man,
And he walked a crooked mile.
He found a crooked sixpence
Beside a crooked stile.
He bought a crooked cat,
Which found a crooked mouse.
And they all lived together
In a little crooked house.


Based on the traditional nursery rhyme “There was a crooked man,” this picture book, written by Margaret Wild, retells the story of the crooked man, his crooked cat, his crooked mouse and most importantly, his crooked little house! As the story unfolds, the house is standing right on the edge of a railway track. Every day as the train roars by, the little crooked house shakes and rattles. Fearing that the house will be “shaken to bits,” the crooked man decides to move. The little crooked house heaves itself up and journeys far away to a desert!

     The saga of the little crooked house continues as the little crooked man finds problems with each new location: the desert (too much sand) and the river (too much water). Eventually, the little crooked house comes to a city and sits itself down between two big houses where the crooked man and his crooked animals finally find safety!

     Margaret Wild is an Australian children’s author who has written more than forty books. Her interpretation of the nursery rhyme brings a new twist to the original text:

There was a crooked man
And he walked a crooked mile;
He found a crooked sixpence,
Against a crooked style;
He bought a crooked cat,
Which caught a crooked mouse,
And they all lived together
In a little crooked house.

     Wild’s version puts the focus on the house and its surroundings. As each new location causes problems for the crooked man, his cat and his mouse, the house picks itself up and moves to a new location! The story is told in a lyrical style which will definitely appeal to young children. The repetition and sound effects will make the story come to life. This story would be particularly useful for teachers as a read aloud. Students could also participate in a shared reading experience.

internal art     The various locations described would be familiar to young children and could provide the basis for very lively discussion with parents, caregivers or teachers about topics such as: nursery rhymes, houses, railroads, noise, rivers, deserts, floods, sandstorms, cities, neighbours, and safety!

     And finally, the illustrations are colourful, interesting and amusing. The illustrator has definitely captured the shaking of the little crooked house when the railway train passes by each day. We understand why the crooked man has to move! Children will appreciate the details of the various locations – the desert, the river and the city. The city location’s appeal is very well explained by the illustrations which show us a contented crooked man waving to his neighbours and dancing for joy with his crooked cat and his crooked mouse! What better way to end a book?

Highly Recommended.

Myra Junyk is the former Program Co-ordinator of Language Arts and Library Services at the Toronto Catholic District School Board. Currently, she is working as a Literacy Advocate and Author.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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