Won't You Come & Play With Me?

Written by Mary Lee Donovan & Illustrated by Cynthia Jabar

A list of errands in hand, a little boy sets out to town with good intentions, but how can he pass by a game of catch without joining in? And how can he resist the sweet smells coming from the bakery or the breezes beckoning in the harbor? Inspired by an old children's street rhyme, this simple story for the very young captures a time when the whole world is a playground, each new day a quest, and at journey's end, supper and a story wait at home. A perfect read-aloud for parent and child to share when the mood calls for a story of both comfort and adventure.

  • Age Range: 2 - 3 years
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0395846307
  • ISBN-13: 978-0395846308
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 9.1 x 0.4 inches



Inspired by an old street rhyme, Donovan (Papa's Bedtime Story) spins a sprightly story of a boy with a list of things to do and plenty of attractive distractions. Nathan must get a haircut and then buy bread, bananas, strawberries and fish, but by the story's end, he's managed to play baseball, romp with a dog, eat a panoply of sweets, flirt with a girl, play at the waterfront?and he never does make it to the barber. Donovan captures the steady, quarter-time cadence of playground poetry: "Into the baker's shop I go;/ I have to leave there quickly,/ for if I'm slow, my mother will say,/ my face and hands got sticky." An exuberant refrain punctuates the verses: "E-I-O for Willie,/ E-I-O for Willie;/ won't you come, won't you come,/ won't you come and play with me?" With simple characterizations, cheerful colors and bold black outlines modulating invitingly soft shapes, Jabar's (Rain Song) scratchboard illustrations clearly evoke a child's sensibility. At the same time, however, her sophisticated use of perspective and composition effectively counterpoints the metronomic quality of the text. Between them, Donovan and Jabar sweep the reader into the exhilaration of a wonderful day's play. Ages 2-7.


PreSchool-Grade 1?Nathan has a list of things to do: get a haircut, buy bread at the bakery and fruit at the corner store, and catch some fish for dinner. However, he keeps getting distracted. His friends call to him, "E-I-O for Willie,/E-I-O for Willie;/won't you come, won't you come,/won't you come and play with me?" and he joins them in a baseball game. He heads to the bakery, but stops again to romp on a hill with a dog ("E-I-O for Flossie,/E-I-O for Flossie;/...won't you come and run with me?"). Nathan goes on to eat a snack at the bakery, do a handstand in front of a girl, and take a ride on a sail boat before wending his way home to his kind and understanding mother. Donovan has taken a traditional street chant and expanded it into a joyful picture book full of charming characters and neat activities. Jabar's scratchboard and watercolor illustrations, with their dark outlines and bright hues, create a cheerful, bouncy mood that perfectly matches the rhythm of the text. Although Nathan does not complete his tasks by the end of the book, he is shown on the back cover getting the haircut that he missed. A fun read-aloud.?Lisa Von Drasek, Bank Street College Library, New York City

About Author & Editor Mary Lee Donovan

Mary Lee celebrates her 19th anniversary at Candlewick Press in 2010. Prior to joining Candlewick in 1991, she spent seven years at Houghton Mifflin, where she began her career in children's book publishing after getting her Master's Degree in Children's Literature.

Mary Lee enjoys editing a variety of genres, from nonfiction to picture books to fiction to projects that demand an audience in spite of their refusal to be neatly and easily categorized. She is the editor of the Judy Moody and Stink series by Megan McDonald, as well as the editor for Laura Amy Schlitz, author of the 2008 Newbery Medal winner, Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village. Among the other authors with whom she works are Jane Cowen-Fletcher, John Lechner, Emma Magenta, Scott Nash, Catharine O'Neill, Doreen Rappaport, and Rosemary Wells.

Mary Lee has also had three picture books published, and is working on new projects, with support from in two writing groups. Mary Lee has an exceptional eye for what makes a book work, from both the author's and the editor's point of view. Her delight in the fine art of children's book creation is catching. -from the Kindling Words website