Prefabulous Animiles



 Betty Roe

Words by:

 James Reeves

Date of composition:



 Thames Publishing (TH978829)


 Reciter, Upper Voices (Trebles) with three soloists, Piano


 c. 12 mins

Vocal Range(s):

 a to g'


 Children, Humerous

This is a wonderful collection for children's choir. The 1977 recording by Colet Court Boys Choir shows that the pieces are great fun to perform and rewarding to listen to.


The sequence of five songs begins with a haunting prologue for Reciter and piano setting the scene for James Reeves’ Prefabulous Animiles which live on the edges of sleep.

The Hippocrump

This leads to the lumbering Hippocrump whose stomach ache can only be salved by pushing him in the lake.

The Bisk

The Bisk lives only to sing and comes with her own doo-wap backing group.

The Catipoce

The smile of the most sinister creature in the group; The Catipoce, is craftily written into the final bars.

The Nonny

The sequence ends with the joyous Nonny who explodes in a disagreement between singers and piano.

On the recording two further Prefabulous Animiles poems by James Reeves; The Snyke and The Doze, were recited after the third and fourth items.  The texts of the poems can be found in James Reeves Complete Poems for Children with delightful illustrations by Edward Ardizzone.

A further setting, The Snitterjipe exists in manuscript but does not form part of this cycle.

To extend the theme of mysterious beasts, this piece could be programmed with Betty Roe and Marian Lines “musical fable” The Storm Hound.