Review by Elizabeth Leung
Tundra, Penguin Random House, 3 September 2019
40 pages, hardcover, $21.99 CAD, 978-0-73526-407-6
Ages 3-7, Grades Pre K-2
Picture Book, Poetry/Verse
It is truly a testament to the genius of the original song how, over 40 years after its debut on The Elephant Show, the undeniably catchy tune of Skinnamarink(-y dinky dink, skinnamarinky doo) can resonate with this book’s readers. Sharon Hampson, Lois Lilienstein, and Bram Morrison with Randi Hampson have brought the 1978 classic folk song into a picture book nearly as long as Skinnamarink itself with a heartfelt introduction and four new verses to learn and enjoy. Even for those new to the jingle, the tune comes with the lyrics and the first chorus is annotated to help you along: “Skin-na-ma-rink-y dinky dink, skin-na-ma-rink-y doo,” and the colourful, “I love you!”
The ink and watercolour illustrations of Qin Leng inclusively depict all peoples and families, including women wearing hijabs, people in wheelchairs, and others waving Pride flags. While every child can find themselves represented within Skinnamarink’s 32 pages, they will surely find a number of hidden treasurers within Leng’s background art, which add more details to discover during each re-reading. It is challenging to translate movements into still images and some of the accompanying dance moves get lost in this translation (especially in the first verse). That being said, it should be easy to learn the choreography with the help of an adult reader who is familiar with the song and dance.
This picture book is a great way to introduce and share this Canadian classic to the next generation of singers. A fun read-aloud and sing-along for the classroom, library, or home, Skinnamarink remains a symbol of friendship, joy and love.
Elizabeth Leung is a graduate student in the Master of Arts in Children’s Literature Program at UBC. In addition to editing Young Adulting, she is a teaching assistant for introduction to writing comics and is currently writing a middle grade space opera about sentient AI and teenagers with dyslexia. Follow her on twitter @ezlabeth.