Colin McNaughton (text) & Emma Chichester Clark (illustrations)
(Walker Books)

A little boy stands alone in a deserted playground, clearly unhappy. As we are witness to his conversation with the narrator it becomes obvious he is not familiar with many classical nursery rhyme characters. But in the distance it seems someone is flying down towards him. It is Mother Goose who soon leads the little boy to a special place where he can meet new friends, all set on bringing joy in his life. That magical place is his local library.

Challenging tongue-twisters await adult readers in this beautiful picture book which brings to life favourite nursery rhyme characters in an ode to nursery rhymes, books and libraries. Colin McNaughton’s skillful rhyming text is full of repetition and fun to read, although it takes a bit of time to get used to for a foreigner like me!

Emma Chichester Clark’s illustrations bring new life and colour to traditional Mother Goose characters.I am awed once more at the detail in her illustrations, particularly the patterns in the clothing.
The double-spread in the library is simply glorious, not only for its artwork but also because of the message it conveys. Because of course,  the underlying message of Have You Ever, Ever, Ever? is very much a poignant one. Seeing this little boy sad and alone, and seeing the change in him once his life becomes full of happiness thanks to stories (a change which is supported by the change in colours in the illustrations)  is here to remind us that for many of our children, the library is the only place where they can encounter such joy and wonders. It is particularly relevant in times where so many libraries are closing.
It is also a declaration of love to Mother Goose and traditional nursery rhymes. A couple of years ago, Booktrust conducted a survey about nursery rhymes and it was found that only 36% out of the surveyed parents regularly used nursery rhymes with their children and that most deemed them old-fashioned. Yet nursery rhymes are proven to be extremely important not to only to develop a love of rhymes but as an essential tool towards language development. So Mother Goose needs a whole lot of love and good publicity, and this book certainly gives it that. I do hope adult readers will be encouraged to pick up a Mother Goose anthology after reading Have You Ever, Ever, Ever? and that in fact young audiences will demand one! For those little readers who are already familiar with nursery rhymes characters however, the book offers are great opportunity to engage with the illustrations by spotting and naming them.

Colin McNaughton says of Have You Ever, Ever, Ever?:

“This book is dedicated to libraries and librarians everywhere and to the power of books to enrich and exercise that most important of human faculties – the imagination”

Have You Ever, Ever, Ever? is about everything that be should celebrated about books, reading and libraries. Supported by beautiful vibrant artwork from Emma Chichester Clark, Colin McNaughton certainly delivers proof, a manifesto even, about why libraries should never be harmed.

Otto the Book Bear by Katie Cleminson is another magical read about the power of libraries. See my review here.

Illustrations © Emma Chichester Clark

Thank you to Walker Books for providing a review copy of “Have You Ever, Ever, Ever?”.