Tongue Twisters - She Sells Sea Shells

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Illustrator Seymour Chwast collects 25 short and easy tongue twisters targeting younger children.

An introductory page notes, "The tongue twister is a phrase or sentence that is difficult to articulate because of a sequence of similar sounds. They should be spoken and repeated several times, quickly, without a mistake. As a form of speech therapy, it helps in the treatment of some speech defects."

This book may indeed by intended as much for therapeutic purposes as for entertainment. Each verse is written in giant black letters on a white background, with a full-page illustration on the facing page.

The book consists entirely of true tongue twisters -- not mere rhymes or alliterations -- but they are very short, typically 6-10 words each. As a result, they are relatively easy to recite once, but may be more challenging when repeated.

The illustrations are less endearing than those in other tongue twister books we have reviewed, and occasionally drift toward the bizarre. For example, this representative rhyme:

My Swiss miss misses Mississippi

faces a drawing of a young blonde woman the size of a mountain, down whose dress a man skies.

The zitherist plays his sister's zither

faces a picture of a four-armed musician. It might be easier to say the phrase than to look at the drawing.

With the exception of the title itself, the collection is original. Although the book's subtitle ("World Class Tongue Twisters") is more than a mere stretch, the book is nonetheless a worthy addition to your collection if it is understood as representing the tongue twister subgenre of short repeating phrases. The book is also a better choice than some of the others for younger readers who would amused by challenging language.

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