Book Review: Rustle Up a Rhythm, by Rosalind Malam & Sarah Nelisiwe Anderson

Available now in bookstores nationwide.

cv_rustle_up_a_rhythmThis book celebrates every day activities in perfect rhyme that dances all over the page. It is a joy to read aloud, and it is rare to find such unforced accuracy in a rhyming book.

Rosalind Malam has been published before, through both Reed and Pearson, but was a name unfamiliar to me, whom I hope to see more from. Sarah Nelisiwe Anderson’s illustrations are animated and fun, with the drumstick-wielding boy carrying us through the rhythm of his and his sister’s day.

Sarah uses great textures in these illustrations, with stylistic quirks such as ‘cut-out’ clothes, which bring the illustrations to life. Sarah has designed as well as illustrated this book, which is probably why the pages are so cleverly used, with a great balance between white space, illustration, and evocative lettering.

This book reminded me of a favourite book of Dan’s – Squeak Rumble Whomp Whomp Whomp, by Wynton Marsalis. Both tell a story of a regular family going about their lives, and the onomatopoeic fun that ensues. In this book, each onomatopoeic clamouring is assisted by playful text which reflects the sense of the word. Each “Pop” bursts from the page, each “crunch” is appropriately crumby, and the “splosh” and “gurgle” assists the water down the sink-hole.

Every 4–5 spreads, some of the main onomatopoeic words are repeated, in association with the pictures. This is a fantastic learning mechanism for just-learning-to-read children, and as always it is still very well-rhymed, with “Pop!” leading to “We hear the music everywhere, the music doesn’t stop.”

The most ambitious spread is where the children, father, and dog explain their day around the dinner table – with images in speech bubbles for each character, and mum looking happily up at them as they explain. It works amazingly well, with dad rapping out a rhythm on the kitchen table with his hands as they talk about their day.

I recommend this for any child who likes to slow down and observe the world around them; for any child who likes the magic of music; and for any child who likes to play with words. My 4-year-old loved it, perhaps yours will too?

Reviewed by Sarah Forster

Rustle up a Rhythm
by Rosalind Malam and Sarah Nelisiwe Anderson
Published by Scholastic NZ
ISBN 9781775431480

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