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Children's Fiction General

When They Are Up...

by (author) Maggee Spicer & Richard Thompson

illustrated by Kirsti Anne Wakelin

Fitzhenry and Whiteside
Initial publish date
Nov 2003
General, Nursery Rhymes
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Nov 2003
    List Price

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No one knows who originally penned this traditional English verse, whose French origins referred to Louis XIV. But Maggee Spicer and her husband, popular children's author and entertainer Richard Thompson, have turned the familiar nursery rhyme upside down in this charming version.

The Grand old Duke of York has many soldiers eager to do his bidding. And in this romping tale they dutifully go up, down-and neither-up-nor-down-as ordered. But although these soldiers have obviously been trained to march, they have little discipline and no sense of decorum. No matter where they happen to be on the hill, they might decide to stop for a game of chess or tag...or even catch armadillos in bags. Other times they cheat at card games, then they play fair...sometimes they even wrestle grizzly bears, or dress up in silly suits, or play basketball with gnomes. This is one army that everyone wants to join.

The acclaimed authors of When They Are Up do not take their soldiers too seriously, nor does artist Kirsti Anne Wakelin, whose colorful army looks like they just stepped out of a deck of playing cards. This fun and rhythmic tale will appeal to all listeners who like their verses bouncing and rollicking, with a huge dose of silly.

- Includes a page of the complete lyrics, accompanied by the music

About the authors

Husband and wife team Richard Thompson and Maggie Spicer have collaborated on the two previous books in the series - We'll All Go Sailing and We'll All Go Flying - as well as the early reader, Fishes in the Ocean. Richard is also the author of The Follower, The Night Walker, Then and Now, and There is Music in a Pussy Cat. They make their home in Prince George, British Columbia.

Maggee Spicer's profile page

Richard Thompson's widely beloved early work within the band Fairport Convention revived British folk traditions, and his duet albums and performances with Linda Thompson are legendary. His songs have been covered by Elvis Costello, David Byrne, Bonnie Raitt, Emmylou Harris, and R.E.M., among others. He continues to write and perform, and to tour widely. He lives in New Jersey.

Richard Thompson's profile page

Kirsti Anne Wakelin was born in Maple Ridge, British Columbia. She studied Graphic Design and Illustration at Capilano College and Painting and Decoration for Motion Picture Set painting at BCIT. Before becoming a freelance designer, illustrator and fine artist, she worked in the Internet industry as an interface designer, print designer and illustrator. Kirsti now lives in Vancouver with a view of the ocean.

Kirsti Anne Wakelin's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"Based on the beloved nursery song, this charming romp presents various ideas for what the Grand Old Duke of York's 10,000 men do "when they are up," down, and in between...will make an active storyhour even more fun."

- School Library Journal

"Using a classic nursery rhyme that follows the undisciplined movements of a grand old Duke of York and his army of 10,000 men as their starting point, the husband-wife team of Maggee Spicer and Richard Thompson have come up with a romping tale of improvisation that will have young readers fashioning playful verses of their own."
- Orlando Sentinel

"...a romping tale of improvisation that will have young readers fashioning playful verses of their own...A world of possibilities awaits a playful mind and an imaginative artist, who all rise to the task admirably."
- Register-Guard (Eugene, OR) and Sunday Telegram (Boston, MA)

"...a lovely fresh take on the nursery rhyme about the grand old Duke of York. Vancouver artist Kirsti Anne Wakelin does a stunning job of bringing the duke's soldiers to life. The most telling thing I can say about this book is that after it had been in our house for two days, I had already read (or sung) it aloud 47 times"
- Vancouver Sun

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