She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain by Jonathan Emmet and Deborah Allwright
She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain takes the popular folk song to new heights of silliness. A serenading cactus begins our tune, inviting us to sing along. The "She" in question is a pint-sized cowgirl whose legend grows with the song.
We start normally enough, but when we find out that the six white horses she'll be driving are named "Misty, Moonbeam, Milkshake, Stardust, Silvermane, and Snowflake," we find ourselves riding off the beaten path into hilariously imaginative scenarios involving jelly-juggling and rooftop-dancing.
Jonathan Emmet's inspired verses make this a rollicking book to read aloud. Just be aware of the playful tongue twistiness of lines such as "You won't believe how nimbly she can boogie 'round the chimbly."
Deborah Allwright's illustrations are brightly conceived and are a perfect visual match for Emmet's ideas. My favorite part comes when we learn "she'll drink out of a dustbin." Our heroine holds up a massive trash can with one dainty hand, tilting her head back as she quenches her thirst. I also love her horseshoe-emblazoned green hat, which is almost twice her size.
Our cowgirl visitor is girly, spunky, and very funny. Though she wears pink pajamas, this is a book that both girls and boys can enjoy for its humor and vibrant pictures. Emmet and Allwright even provide a diagram of actions you can match with each part of the song, adding to its rereading potential.
Looking for other great picture books to sing out loud? Look no further than two brilliant titles by Karen Beaumont. I Ain't Gonna Paint No More mixes art with anarchy as a young boy joyfully covers himself...and his house...in creative expression. Beaumont's Baby Danced the Polka is an engaging lift-the-flap book where a farmhouse tyke refuses to nap in lieu of dancing with various farm animals.
Singing is a fantastic way of encouraging children to read. It allows them to stretch out the syllables in words and explore rhyme. Through singing, children gain an understanding of spoken and written language and they have fun while doing it! She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain is the sort of book you'll want to sing out loud in your silliest voice, over and over.