Review of The McElderry Book of Mother Goose

mcelderry book of mother goose Review of The McElderry Book of Mother Goosestar2 Review of The McElderry Book of Mother Goose The McElderry Book of Mother Goose: Revered and Rare Rhymes
compiled by Petra Mathers; 
illus. by the compiler
Primary, Intermediate    McElderry    96 pp.
8/12    978-0-689-85605-1    $21.99
e-book ed.  978-1-4424-5314-2    $12.99
Not since Leonard Marcus’s Mother Goose’s Little Misfortunes (rev. 11/90) has there been such a delightfully idiosyncratic selection. Drawn mostly from the canonical Opies (see “Sources”), Mathers’s fifty-seven entries include many lesser-known or longer rhymes (some “sad and scary”), all nicely leavened with such familiar nonsense as “Hey Diddle Diddle.” Here are puzzles (“I Saw a Fishpond All on Fire”); tongue twisters and verbal nonsense (“The Great Panjandrum”); stories tragic (“poor babes in the wood”) and comic (a peddler sells a woman “the piece he’d purloined” from her own petticoat). Several are lyrical (“seventeen times as high as the moon”) or mysterious (“tell my mother I shall never come back”). Vocabulary is unstinted (counting down “Ten Little Penguins”: “One got in chancery”). The delicate wit of Mathers’s watercolors and the generous spaces where her characters appear enable creative interpretation—Cock Robin’s funeral is a cooperative venture amongst the birds; Hector Protector, “dressed all in green,” is green himself: he’s a frog. Dr. Fell’s disgruntled patient, a dog, has a bandaged foot and a plastic Elizabethan collar. Mathers’s expressive figures, in many moods, are effectively counterpointed by touches of dramatic, or pensive, landscape. Pair this with the Opie/Sendak I Saw Esau (rev. 9/92) for a feast of traditional rhymes.

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Joanna Rudge Long About Joanna Rudge Long

Joanna Rudge Long is former editor of Kirkus Reviews and a frequent lecturer on children’s books.

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