I saw you in the street,
I saw you in a tree,
I saw you in the bathtub –
Whoops! Pardon me!
I Saw You in the Bathtub: And Other Folk Rhymes (An I Can Read Book 1) By Alvin Schwartz. Illustrated by Syd Hoff. HarperTrophy, 64 pp., $3.99, paperback. Ages 5–8 (for independent reading), ages 2 and up (for reading aloud).
By Janice Harayda
A couple of months ago, I mentioned I Saw You in the Bathtub in the context of a couple of its poems that relate to Halloween. But this book is so much fun, it has a year-round appeal.
Alvin Schwartz has collected 40 ageless folk rhymes that consist mainly of words of one or two syllables: “I scream, / You scream, / We all scream / For ice cream!” So this book is a good choice for many kindergarten-though-third-graders who are starting to read and need short words and strongly patterned text.
But children as young as age 2 also love rhymes like: “Teacher, teacher made a mistake — / She sat down in a chocolate cake!” and “Three little chickadees / Looking at you, / One flew away / And then there were two.” And because variations on most of the rhymes seem to have existed since Cain, the book has an intergenerational appeal: It gives parents and grandparents a chance to share the versions they know. Am I the only one who learned the title rhyme as: “I saw you in the river, / I saw you in the sea, / I saw you in the bathtub — / Oops! Pardon me!”?
Best line: The title rhyme. But “Mary, Mary, strong and able, / Keep your elbow off the table” may be better known.
Worst line: A few rhymes are taunts that some adults may want to skip when reading the book aloud, such as the deathless: “Kindergarten baby, / Stick your head in gravy!” Speaking just for myself: I’d rather hear those lines than some words that arepopular among 3-year-olds, such as “dickhead.”
Recommendation? High value for the dollar as holiday gift for a family with children ages 2 and up. This $3.99 paperback is much more entertaining than most $16.99 hardcover picture books.
Published: March 1989 (first edition), 1991 (HarperTrophy paperback) www.harpercollins.com/books/9780064441513/I_Saw_You_in_the_Bathtub/index.aspx
Reviews of books for children or teenagers appear every Saturday on this site, which will also post a list of suggested gift books for children and teenagers during the holiday season. Please bookmark this site or subscribe to the RSS feed to avoid missing these posts.
© 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.