John Burgerman, Rhyme Crime

Oxford University Press, 2017, ISBN 978-0-19-274950-5

'Once upon a time, a thief committed a crime. Everything he stole was replaced with a rhyme.' So begins this inventive picture book for young children. On each right hand page we see a bright image of some strange, happy creature. We know they are about to be robbed, not just because of the words, but because we see the shadow of the criminal's long arm reaching out. On the next page we find out what has changed. 'Hammy's brand new hat was swapped for a ...', then on the next page 'cat'. Hammy, who was smiling and relaxed on the previous page now has an uncomfortable and cross cat on their head (we know the gender of the criminal but not any of the other characters) and a startled expression. When Blue's yummy cake is taken, Blue is trussed up tight in the coils of a hissing snake. Boomer looks more than a little agitated by the replacement of their brain by a train. At last the thief gives himself away. He cannot find anything that rhymes with orange. He is jailed. 'But the very next day the thief had run ... away!' A puzzled policeman asks 'How did he escape?' The rhyming answer can only be found in the picture.

Rhyme Crime will be very popular. The gently anarchic humour of the words and the plot is brought to zany life by Jon Burgerman's own idiosyncratic illustrations. Children will have fun guessing what each stolen item is going to be replaced with, and working out the puzzle at the end. And when they've done so, they will find out that maybe it wasn't the end after all. The book will succeed in one-to-one use, with small groups and as whole-class fun.