Friday, January 30, 2015

PPBF: London Bridge is Falling Down!

Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

London Bridge is Falling Down!,
the first title in the Mother Goose Library

London Bridge is Falling Down!
From The Mother Goose Library
Illustrated by Peter Spier
Doubleday & Co, 1967
grades K-3

Rhymes, Historical

"See-saw, sacradown,
Which is the way to London town?
One foot up and the other foot down,
That is the way to London town.
And just the same, over dale and hill,
Is also the way to wherever you will."

Legendary illustrator Peter Spier conceived of the Mother Goose Library as a fresh was to represent traditional songs and rhymes in an illustrated format. Here he presents all eighteen verses (yep, eighteen!) along with a pictorial history of London, occasional factual sidebars, the musical notation for this nursery rhyme, and a three-page synopsis of London Bridge, spanning 43 BC to 1970 AD -- pun intended.

What I Love:
Well, Peter Spier, of course. He always manages to imbue his illustrations with authenticity and humor. Nearly every page is color, but there are a few lively pen and ink sketches sprinkled throughout. This book was way ahead of its time. Many non-fiction books of the 60's were dry and lacking in the details that engage young readers. Peter Spier's drawings allow modern readers to glimpse real life as it was, and to see themselves in the story. He makes the bridge itself seem like a character.


1. I scrambled to post this review instead of my regularly scheduled book, because Doubleday reissued two of Spier's classics last Tuesday. Read the announcement from Publisher's Weekly.
Play London Bridge!
Thanks to Bethany Kindergarten
2.The History Channel presents more interesting facts about London Bridge on their website.
3.  Surf or visit the London Bridge Museum in the UK, or the reconstruction in Arizona.
4. Cook up recipes from the Elizabethan Era or Medieval Times.
5. You can build the Tower Bridge with Lego or out of paper with downloadable instructions.
6. Singer, composer, and picture book enthusiast Emily Leatha Everson has collected half a dozen of Peter Spier's musical books on here blog, SingBooksWithEmily. Her fun blog is dedicated to picture books that sing, literally!
7. The New Netherlands Institute has information and links on the artist himself.
8. Don't forget to sign up for the Knopf Doubleday newsletter so you won't miss any of their new releases.
9. Check out these and other Perfect Picture Books at your local library.

Reviewed by Julie
My review from 2013

Reviewed by Darshana

Have you reviewed a Perfect Picture Book along this theme? Please leave the link in the comments below. Thanks!

Check out all the recommended titles for Perfect Picture Book Friday
for January 30, 2015 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.


  1. I'm a big fan of Peter Spier and his books!

    1. Me too. I love his storytelling ability. So much to learn from an illustrator like him!

  2. His illustrations are beautiful and mesmerizing! I'd read it just because I love Peter Spier!

    1. He is amazing. Have you read Tin Lizzie or To Market, To Market?

  3. The rhyme is as engaging as the illustrations. Sweet! Thanks for highlighting!

    1. Thanks for visiting, Jilanne! Let me know what you think of his work.

  4. I'm embarrassed to say I don't know who Peter Spier is. I will have to go to the library and educate myself.

    1. I'm happy to introduce you. 'Hope you like his books. Thanks for commenting.

  5. Looks like a lovely, fun Rhythmic book! Do kids play London Bridge these days? I've not seen it. Only heard tales of it.

    1. Even I didn't know all the motions and verses of this playground song when I was young. Maybe families who read this will be inspired to try it for themselves. Thanks for reading!


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