I like old clothes, / Hand-me-down clothes, / Worn outgrown clothes, / Not-my-own clothes. . . . Originally published by Knopf in 1976 (with illustrations by Jacqueline Chwast), this poem—an exuberant celebration of hand-me-down clothes—is just as relevant and accessible today as it was over 30 years ago. Children's Poet Laureate Mary Ann Hoberman offers a bouncy, fun-to-read-aloud text and a refreshingly agreeable, resourceful protagonist who likes old clothes for their "history" and "mystery." Illustrator...
I like old clothes, / Hand-me-down clothes, / Worn outgrown clothes, / Not-my-own clothes. . . . Originally published by Knopf in 1976 (with illustrations by Jacqueline Chwast), this poem—an exuberant celebration of hand-me-down clothes—is just as relevant and accessible today as it was over 30 years ago. Children's Poet Laureate Mary Ann Hoberman offers a bouncy, fun-to-read-aloud text and a refreshingly agreeable, resourceful protagonist who likes old clothes for their "history" and "mystery." Illustrator Patrice Barton brings new, contemporary life to the poem, with an adorable little girl and her younger brother playing dress-up, making crafts, and happily treasuring their hand-me-downs.
A child who likes wearing hand-me-downs imagines in verse the history of these clothes.
“I like old clothes,/ Hand-me-down clothes,/ Worn outgrown clothes,/ Not my own clothes.” Former U.S. children’s poet laureate Hoberman’s poem, first published in 1976, holds up nicely; families are still trading bags of too-small clothes, and children are still enjoying hand-me-downs (“And party dresses/ Not quite new,/ Not quite in style,/ I like them, too”). Barton’s (Mine!) spreads couldn’t be any warmer or fuzzier. Her mixed-media scenes incorporate images of patterned fabrics for the clothes, and soft pencil lines and blurry edges give the artwork a painted feel. A girl in overalls and sneakers—just the sort of girl one might imagine having a sensible attitude toward secondhand apparel—is pictured in her room with her younger brother, trying on a small marching band uniform (first spotted in a store window on the title page) and vamping in a pair of long black gloves. The poem stays in one register, exploring the theme from several angles, without any real narrative arc; it’s written more just for the joy of the rhymes and the rhythm. Ages 5–8. Agent: Christina A. Tugeau, CATugeau. (Aug.)
From the Publisher
Starred Review, School Library Journal, June 2012: “The imaginative child’s enthusiasm is infectious–kids might well be inspired to ask for secondhand outfits themselves…. The overall effect is a visual celebration of old clothes.”
- Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
"I like old clothes," says our young narrator. "Worn outgrown clothes/ Not-my-own clothes." She does not turn up her nose at them the way "some people do." In rhymes that are a pleasure to read aloud, she tells us all the things she likes about old clothes as she wonders about who has worn them and where. As she tries on an assortment of dresses, shirts, sweaters, and hats, she imagines the party dress at a party, then speculates about "...whose clothes they'll be/ When they've finished with me." There is an inventive naturalism to Barton's pencil sketches and mixed media images assembled and painted digitally. Characters perform for us in assorted vignettes; mainly it is the sprightly redhead and her cooperative younger brother, with an occasional friend or cat for added visual interest. A row of flowers with buttons as blooms on the end pages contributes to the light-hearted make-believe. Perhaps readers may be inspired to accept or even want hand-me-downs instead of new clothes.
School Library Journal
Gr 1—Hoberman's 1976 picture book is dressed up with new illustrations. A precocious unnamed girl describes her love of vintage apparel: "I like old clothes./I really do./Clothes with a history,/Clothes with a mystery." With rhymes that are never too sweet, the girl says how she likes to imagine who wore the items before her and how, and then make them her own through embellishments or just through use (such as wearing formerly dressy pants to play hopscotch). The imaginative child's enthusiasm is infectious—kids might well be inspired to ask for secondhand outfits themselves. The clever, humorous illustrations show the smiling, red-haired girl modeling arm-length buttoned-up gloves, sewing a too-long yellow dress, or imagining the former owner of a school-uniform sweater. Barton uses fabriclike backgrounds in most of the illustrations (which were created with pencil, mixed media, and assembled and painted digitally), making the backdrop to the whole book look like beautifully faded fabric swatches. The overall effect is a visual celebration of old clothes.—Heather Talty, formerly at Columbia Grammar & Preparatory School, New York City
Hand-me-downs gain new poetic life in this charming picture-book remake. Originally published with illustrations by Jacqueline Chwast, here Hoberman's 1976 poem gets a makeover courtesy of illustrator Barton. Kirkus panned the original for attempting too much with too little, finding Hoberman's "silly rhyme" as threadbare as its theme of recycled clothing and Chwast's "overpopulated pictures" teeming with a "freakish cast." Thankfully, the Barton edition coheres much better. While Hoberman's thematic insistence on the delight to be found in imagining the prior ownership of secondhand clothes is a little heavy-handed, her verse comes across as playful and light: "I like old clothes. / I really do. / Clothes with a history, / Clothes with a mystery, // Sweaters and shirts / That are brother-and-sistery…." Barton's digitally rendered mixed-media illustrations capture well the warmth of Hoberman's message, using wispy lines and softly accented shading to imbue these garments with such life that they actually seem capable of some determinism in their hand-me-down trajectory. Particularly effective is the final spread, in which a clothesline strung between windows displays many of the "Now-for-play clothes" featured earlier, giving the poet's concept of a garment's past and future a smartly literal linearity. With Barton's nuanced illustrations, Hoberman's 36-year-old hand-me-down poem defines sustainability for the next generation. (Picture book. 3-7)
Children's Poet Laureate MARY ANN HOBERMAN has written over 40 children's books. She's the recipient of a National Book Award and the NCTE Poetry for Children Award. She lives in Greenwich, Connecticut, with her husband, Norman. They have four children and five grandchildren.
About the Illustrator
PATRICE BARTON earned a BFA in studio art from the University of Texas in Austin, where she lives with her husband and son. Her books include Sweet Moon Baby written by Karen Henry Clark; Mine! by Shutta Crum; and Rosie Sprout's Time to Shine by Allison Wortche—all available from Knopf.