As a parent who has read stories over and over again, I appreciate children’s stories which are fun, lyrical, and worthy of being read hundreds of times. Jamberry is one of those books.
This book was written and illustrated by Bruce Degen. Most children’s picture books do not have the same person as author and illustrator, but this one has equally strong verse and picture-storytelling.
The best picture books offer additional story through the artwork. As an example, the text begins: “One berry, two berry, pick me a blueberry…” Immediately, the illustration shows an anthropomorphized bear, interacting with a young child, sharing berries. From this first window into the magical world of the story, the reader knows to expect a fabulous world, similar to a fairy-land. Another clue is the marshmallows on tall grass, which adds to the nonsensical world.
Another aspect I like about this rhyming story is that the rhyme shifts from one type, to another, and then another. It has the affect of shifting gears when driving through a varied landscape.
In my own poetic picture book, Summer North Coming – Winter North Coming, I chose to carefully follow a rhyming scheme throughout the story. It is a safe bet to do so, and it seemed natural; but I commend Degen for breaking that tendency and going out on a limb to create something unique.
First published in 1983, it is a new classic which I buy again and again as part of a new baby gift-bundle.