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Whoosh Around the Mulberry Bush (book and music CD) Review by Nancy Casari Dayton

By Jan Ormerod and Lindsey Gardiner
Barron's Educational Series, INC.
250 Wireless Blvd.
Hauppauge, NY 11788

This book, geared to the preschool crowd, presents a colorful array of animals found in different geographical settings throughout the world. The words can be sung to the well-known tune "Here We Go Around the Mulberry Bush." There is an accompanying CD that contains two tracks: the story set to music with sound effects and the story with quirky page-turning signals.

Each two-page spread features a different climate/geographical setting: garden, farm, seashore, ocean, jungle, grasslands, arctic region, and nocturnal birds and bats. The illustrations are very colorful, cartoonish representations of the creatures. The words create vivid pictures and sounds in the mind. For example, the jungle spread uses such words as "clack, call, slither, squeeze, scream, swing, vines, hot, and sticky."

I shared the book and CD with my two preschoolers one evening before bed. I must say that it was rather humorous to observe their reactions. They are not accustomed to much frivolous reading material or music. They enjoyed looking at the colorful pictures; however, the words really don't provide much information about what they are seeing, nor are the pictures realistic representations of the various creatures. There are no labels to identify the animals. It's not that I had trouble doing so, but we do prefer that the books we share have more meaningful substance. We can then choose whether or not to provide more detailed explanation.

The real treat came, though, when I turned on the CD. I wish I'd had a video recorder. Their eyes grew as big as saucers, and they sat perfectly still. The music and reading on the CD tracks are performed by a few gentlemen with a rather thick English or Australian accent. My children have never heard such a thing before. That in itself has educational value, I suppose. It was way over-the-top for my taste.

This book/CD set might be a fine pick from a library for something fun and quirky. It might work well at an animal-themed party. It could provide the most basic introduction to animals in various climates/geographical settings. However, I would prefer to spend money (list price $8.99) on a book that has realistic pictures and content that the kids can enjoy now and grow into later.

Product review by Nancy Casari Dayton, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, March 2007