________________ CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 37. . . .May 28, 2010.



Robert Munsch. Illustrated by Michael Martchenko.
Toronto, ON: Annick Press, 2010.
26 pp., board, $6.95.
ISBN 978-1-55451-228-7.

Preschool / Ages 2-4.

Review by Dave Jenkinson.




Most of CM’s readers are likely already aware of the “noisy” contents of Munsch’s Mortimer which was originally published in 1985. While this new board book version maintains the core storyline of the original book, the text has been essentially rewritten. With the exception of some minor cropping, Michael Martchenko’s original illustrations are, however, unchanged. Perhaps the best way to illustrate how the text has changed is by presenting the opening page of both versions. The 1985 book began:

One night Mortimer’s mother
took him upstairs to go to bed
thump thump thump thump thump thump. [words ascend the page]
When they got upstairs Mortimer’s
mother opened the door to his room.
She threw him into bed and said
Mortimer shook his head, yes.

     The 2010 board book version reads:

Mortimer went upstairs to bed –

whap whap whap whap whap. [words ascend the page]

His mommy said, MORTIMER, BE QUIET!”

Mortimer said, ”YES! YES!”

She went down the stairs –

whap whap whap whap whap whap. [words descend the page]

     Obviously, the text has been abbreviated and made softer, possibly more intimate and toddler friendly. “The mother,” as she was called in the original, has become the warmer “his mommy”, and she no longer “takes” Mortimer upstairs and “throws” him into bed. Instead, Mortimer appears to have gone up to bed voluntarily although the five bolded “whaps” may suggest that Mortimer’s heading to bed might not have been entirely his idea, especially when his mother “shouts” at him to be quiet. “Whap,” however, is a gentler sound than “thump.” The “new” Mortimer no longer “shakes” his head “yes” but instead verbalizes his agreement to be quiet. While the two versions conclude in the same place with Mortimer’s finally falling asleep, there are differences in the detail. In the original, everyone was arguing downstairs while “Upstairs, Mortimer got so tired waiting for someone to come up that he fell asleep.” However, in the board book:

Downstairs, everybody argued.

Mortimer waited till they were quiet.

Then Mortimer sang very softly,

Clang, clang, rattle bing bang,

Gonna make my noise all day.

Clang, clang, rattle bing bang,

Gonna make my noise all day.

And Mortimer went to sleep.

     The Mortimer of the 2010 board book is not exactly the same boy we found back in 1985, but he definitely has a place in toddlers’ personal libraries and in libraries serving this age group. As these youngsters grow older, then can revisit Mortimer in the original picture book.

Highly Recommended.

Dave Jenkinson, who lives in Winnipeg, MB, is CM’s editor.

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

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