________________ CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 25. . . .March 4th, 2011.


Mad About Munsch!: A Robert Munsch Collection.

Robert Munsch. Illustrated by Michael Martchenko and the children of Sir Isaac Brock Public School.
Toronto, ON: Scholastic Canada, 2010.
180 pp., hardcover, $24.99.
ISBN 978-1-4431-0239-1.

Subject Heading:
Children stories, Canadian (English).


More Pies!

Robert Munsch. Illustrated by Michael Martchenko.
Toronto, ON: Scholastic Canada, 2002.
See review at: Vol. 9, No. 9, January 3, 2003.

Robert Munsch. Illustrated by Michael Martchenko.
Toronto, Markham, ON: Scholastic Canada, 2003.
See review at: Vol. 9, No. 17, April 25, 2003.

Smelly Socks.
Robert Munsch. Illustrated by Michael Martchenko.
Toronto, ON: Scholastic Canada, 2004.
See review at: Vol. 10, No. 14, March 12, 2004.

Robert Munsch.
Illustrated by Michael Martchenko.
Toronto, ON: Scholastic Canada, 2004.
See review at: Vol, 11, No. 10, January 21, 2005.

The Sandcastle Contest.
Robert Munsch. Illustrated by Michael Martchenko.
Toronto, ON: Scholastic Canada, 2005.
See review at: Vol. 12, No. 5, October 28, 2005.

Robert Munsch. Illustrated by the children of Sir Isaac Brock Public School.

Preschool-grade 3 / Ages 4-8.

Review by Dave Jenkinson.

*** /4



On Saturday, when Ashley was sitting at the breakfast table, her mother came in and said, "Look at your hair. It's a mess! It needs a few braids before you go out and play,"

"A few!" yelled Ashley. "You always put in a million braids and you pull on my hair and it hurts and it takes all day! I never do anything but get my hair braided.

"NO! NO! NO!"

Then Ashley ran around the breakfast table screaming.

AHHHH! AHHHH! AHHHH! AHHHH! while her mother tried to catch her.

After they had gone around the breakfast table seventeen times, Ashley's mother caught Ashley, sat her on a chair and started to braid her hair.

Mad About Munsch! contains five Munsch authored and Martchenko illustrated stories that were originally published between 2002 and 2005, with all of them having been previously reviewed in CM. However, Braids, the last story in this collection, is a new tale, and instead of bearing Martchenko's familiar humourous art work, it was illustrated instead by children who attend Sir Isaac Brock Public School in Guelph, ON.

     In an endnote, Munsch explains that he had been storytelling at the Guelph Public Library in 2009 when he was approached by Taya Kendall, a grade three student, who was putting out a school newspaper. She asked him if she could include one of his stories in the paper, and he suggested "Braids," the unpublished story he had just told and the one in which he had orally incorporated Taya's name. Later, Taya got the idea of producing the story as a book and having it illustrated by students from her school. The proceeds from the paperback book, which appeared in 2009 and sold for $10.00, were directed to Children of Bukati, a program to enable AIDS orphans to attend school in Butula, Kenya. For reproducing this version of Braids in Mad About Munsch!, Scholastic Canada has made a donation to Children of Bukati in the name of the children of Sir Isaac Brock Public School.

     As the above "excerpt" indicates, Braids begins with Ashley's having to undergo the painful and time-consuming Saturday ritual of having her hair braided by her mother. When the ordeal is over, Ashley looks in the mirror and observes:

Oh, look!"
"It's beautiful."
"It's wonderful."
"But it took forever!"
"I wish you didn't like to braid my hair."

    Later that day, Ashley complains to her grandmother that, while her friends get to go out and play or go the mall on Saturdays, she's stuck inside. "It takes all day and I never do anything but get my hair braided." Grandmother confesses that Ashley's mother learned how to braid hair through Grandmother's braiding Ashley's mother's hair when she was a child. Ashley, observing that her mother's hair is no longer in braids, wonders:

"How come you don't braid her hair now" said Ashley.
"Can't catch her," said her grandmother.
"Maybe both of us could catch her!" said Ashley.
"Good idea," said her grandmother.

     As mother and daughter sit outside on the front steps, Ashley's teacher walks by and observes, "My! What lovely braids. I wish I had hair like that." As the saying goes, "Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it." With Ashley, her mother and grandmother, plus the neighbours in pursuit, the teacher is chased "around the block seventeen times until Ashley finally caught her." After six hours of braiding, the teacher "had a thousand little braids in her hair. She looked sort of like a porcupine." As is common with Munsch's plots, he tosses in a little twist at the end.

     Should Munsch ever decide to commercially publish this story, it will be interesting to see how Martchenko, or some other professional illustrator, will visually interpret Munsch's words. In the meantime, the naive art of these elementary school students not only suffices, but it may also motivate other children to generate their own graphic versions of this or other Munsch texts.

     Like the other Munsch compilations, Mad About Munsch! offers excellent monetary value, especially if parents or librarians were considering purchasing the six books as separate volumes. The book's increased dimensions will also make the illustrations much more visible when the stories are read to small groups of listeners.

Highly Recommended.

Dave Jenkinson, CM's editor, lives in Winnipeg, MB.

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

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