HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Peanut Butter and Jelly: A Play Rhyme
Author and Illustrator: Nadine Bernard Westcott
Publisher: Puffin, republished in 1992
ISBN-13: 978-0833589903 (Hardback)
ISBN-10: 0833589903 (Hardback)
ISBN-13: 978-0140548525 (Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0140548521 (Paperback)
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Rating: 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Westcott, Nadine Bernard. Peanut Butter and Jelly: A Play Rhyme (published in 1987 by Simon and Schuster; republished in 1992 by Puffin). When our boys were just beginning to read, we liked to check age-appropriate books out of the library that they could laugh and giggle over while using for extra practice. In this one, with the help of a jolly baker, five exuberant elephants, and an energetic dog and cat, two children hungry create a table-size sandwich from scratch. The opening sentence begins, “First you take the dough and knead it, knead it.” Chantlike verses set forth the making of the sandwich from start to finish. After the bread is kneaded, it is baked and sliced. Then from beneath the kitchen table emerge the five elephants, each armed with a bag of peanuts which they stomp into peanut butter. Next, comes the bathtub filled with grapes which are squashed into the desired consistency of jelly. Their sandwich is so enormous that a saw is required to slice it.
Most children love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The rhythmic text by author Nadine Bernard Westcott is actually a traditional song and is made all the more delightful by her watercolor illustrations in pastels and muted tints. The double-page spreads, enhanced by the sideline actions of the pet cat which looks shocked by the entire escapade, the dog which licks his chops in anticipation of snatching a morsel, and finally, the mother who faints in the kitchen doorway, are not cluttered. There is a page of instructions for the accompanying hand and foot motions as well as the clapping patterns. This rollicking picture book is not only a fun read, with its repetitive phrasing, but also a comical way of showing children how much time and effort must go in to providing the materials for a simple peanut butter and jelly sandwich. A board book edition is also available.