Over in the Meadow by Ezra Jack Keats
In case you haven't heard of Ezra Jack Keats yet, this guy is awesome. We have only read three of his books, but are on the lookout for more. This is the first one we were introduced to...by chance, in fact, because we just stumbled across it at a goodwill one day. The artwork on the cover grabbed my attention--the rhyming, song-like text persuaded me that I should have this book in our home library.
You know how you just know a great author just by reading one of his books? Well, this is how it was for us. After one reading, we just knew that Keats was a master. The illustrations are just gorgeous--each page presents a work of art in it's own right, capable of standing on its own.
It's a counting book--that presents creatures of the meadow--mothers and offspring in the following manner:
"Over in the meadow in the sand, in the sun, lived an old mother turtle and her little turtle one. Dig! said the mother. "I did," said the one. So he dug all day in the sand, in the sun."
And so on, followed by fish, birds, muskrats, bees, etc...
The back of the book has more information about keats: "Primarily a painter, Keats was noted for his special use of collage and acrylics along with watercolors to illuminate the urban settings of many of his books and to create the glowing tones you see in Over in the Meadow."
It also states that the text for Over in the Meadow is "based on the original version of the traditional Southern Appalachian counting rhyme. It dates back to the late 1800s and is attributed to Olive A. Wadsworth."
I looked for a site that plays the song and lyrics for free, but it seems you can only find it if you pay for it. I did find a site that plays the music and shows the lyrics, if you are wanting to get the music in your head so you can sing the book to your child.
This is one of our favorites--it's one you can read over and over again and never get tired of it. We also like it for a bedtime book--the rhythm is soothing and gets juliet ready to fall "fast asleep" as she calls it.
The official keats website has a kids corner with animated stories, games, etc. that your child may find fun.