Mother Goose

   The sounds and rhythm of Mother Goose rhymes have helped them endure for years and years. Phrases from these rhymes are often heard in conversation or repeated in literature, making it important for each generation to be familiar with them. Whether using them in a story hour, at home with your child, or as a gift to a newborn, these titles are definitely ones to search out!

Web links to additional information and activities about Mother Goose follow these reviews.

Contributor: Peg Glisson


Builder Goose: It’s Construction Rhyme Time!

Boni Ashburn

Illustrated by Sergio De Giorgi

Mother Goose rhymes are given construction site context in an upbeat collection of poems joined by equally friendly images of industrious animals operating tools and equipment in scenes that have a chunky, three-dimensional quality. “Three Blind Mice” is restaged with a trio of dump trucks (“They wait in line to pick up their load/ of dirt or big rocks, then they head down the road”); a “rumbling bridge is falling down/ falling down/ falling down”; and a mouse and cat “Sing a song of garbage,/ a bucketful of trash./ Four and twenty loads of it-/ ready to be mashed!” Fans of Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site will want to pick this one up. 2012: Sterling, Ages 3-6, $14.95.

REVIEWER: Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly).

ISBN: 9781402771187

The Cat and the Fiddle: A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes

Jackie Morris

Animals figure prominently in this collection of 40 nursery rhymes, distinguished by Morris’s dreamlike watercolor illustrations. For “Lavender’s Blue” and “Lilies Are White” a king and queen ride a polar bear, all three crowned with botanicals mentioned in the verse. Later, a woman in vibrant robes knits yarn carried “three bags full” by her enormous, shaggy black sheep. Morris places nomadic, magisterial figures against pastoral backdrops, peppered with castles and cottages, creating moments of strange, bewitching beauty. 2011, Frances Lincoln, Ages 3-6, $19.95.

REVIEWER: Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly).

ISBN: 9781845079871

Detective Blue

Steve Metzger

Illustrated by Tedd Arnold

Metzger takes us on a fun and pun-filled romp as the former Little Boy Blue, now a detective, searches for the missing Miss Muffet. Character after character from nursery rhymes enters the story. Blue starts his day cleaning up the caper of the dish that ran away with the spoon, and then catching Mary’s little lamb before it gets into school. Alerted by Jack Spratt, Blue examines the tuffet, the curds and whey; “UGH!” Then, as he searches, he encounters Little Bo Peep, Humpty Dumpty, three blind mice, and Jack Horner, who sends him to Old King Cole’s castle. There the mystery of the missing Miss Muffet is cleverly solved. Arnold sets the stage on the jacket/cover, where Blue and the other characters stare at the mysterious tuffet and the spilled bowl. Created by pencil and finalized by Photoshop, the cartoon-y participants with their wide-open round eyes accentuate the tale’s puzzle. As visualized in varied size framed vignettes containing bits of text supplemented with speech balloons, there is enough detail to enhance the comic parody. The “CASE CLOSED” file on the rear end pages brings the fun to a fitting end. There is an added challenge to readers to find the references to the twenty-four Mother Goose rhymes in the story. 2011, Orchard Books/Scholastic, Ages 4 to 8, $16.99.

REVIEWER: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9780545172868

The Green Mother Goose: Saving the World One Rhyme at a Time

Jan Peck and David Davis

Illustrated by Carin Berger

Classic nursery rhyme characters are recast in an eco-friendly platform. Yankee Doodle explores green transportation (“Yankee Doodle went to school,/ A-riding in a carpool”), Old Mother Hubbard rethinks her buying habits when her dog rebuffs the junk food in her cupboard (“She went to the market/ To buy only local./ Dog bounced and barked/ His approval was vocal”), and “Old King Coal” has a change of heart: “Though he was a meanie,/ Now he is a greenie,/ And he works to keep our skies smoke-free.” Matte collages incorporate newsprint, bottles, cans, and other recyclable materials. Peck and Davis deliver their missive with humor and a touch of snark, but the often self-righteous tone drains much of the fun. 2011, Sterling, Ages 5-up, $14.95.

REVIEWER: Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly).

ISBN: 9781402765254

Hey Diddle Diddle Hey Diddle Doodle

Brian Moses

Illustrated by Jill Newton

These delightful nursery rhymes presented in this series, Tadpoles Nursery Rhymes, will be sure to bring about smiles in readers. The traditional nursery rhymes chosen for this series will be familiar as they are the same ones that parents have shared with their children, but there is a twist. The second rhyme in the book is a new one based on the same rhyming pattern as the original nursery rhyme. The alternative rhyme will encourage the child to explore language and create their own rhymes. There are detailed full-page illustrations that will enable the younger reader to do picture walks. These books include “notes for adults and reading tips” Category: Picture Books. Thematic Links: Rhyming; Nursery Rhymes. Resource Links Rating: G (Good, great at times, generally useful!), 2012, Crabtree Publishing Co, Ages 2 to 7, $22.95.

REVIEWER: Colette Schneider (Resource Links).

ISBN: 9780778778844

Hey Diddle, Diddle and Other Favorite Nursery Rhymes

Illustrated by Hannah Wood

Nursery rhymes still have appeal, even though their original meaning has been lost over time. The alliteration, soothing words and cadence may account for their continued appeal. In this collection, there are the familiar–“Old Mother Hubbard,” “Three Little Kittens” and “Pop! Goes the Weasel.” Although one might wonder what the real meaning of the latter is, and even Wikipedia does not have a concrete answer. Would any young toddler today have a clue as to what pease porridge is and why a feather would be called macaroni? Does it matter? Perhaps to some, but most lap sitters will just enjoy being read to and even smile when they learn what little boys and girls are made of. The illustrations are whimsical and certainly have plenty of kid appeal. This large format padded board book should be a staple in most toddler collections. 2012, Tiger Tales/ME Media, Ages 2 to 5, $8.95.

REVIEWER: Marilyn Courtot (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9781589258709

How To Teach a Slug to Read

Susan Pearson

Illustrated by David Slonim

An enumerated list of steps (perhaps generated by the slug-friendly boy pictured in the illustrations) helps Mama Slug in teaching Little Slug how to read. Through the course of the story, the mama and her slug follow the practical steps, from picking interesting books to sounding out words to being patient, resulting in Little Slug’s ultimate success. There are essentially three different types of text throughout the story: the how-to steps offered to Mama, the dialogue between the two slugs (delivered in speech bubbles), and the text from the books that the slugs are reading, which tends strongly toward comic echoes of famous literature (Slug and Snail Are Friends, anyone?). The three strands come together neatly, resulting in a tightly executed narrative with lots of humor and appeal. Pearson’s penchant for slugs (see Slugs in Love) is evident throughout, and the two main slug characters are portrayed both affectionately and creatively. The literary references are fast and furious (the rewrites of Mother Goose rhymes to include slug characters are rather clever) and, fortunately, very accessible to current listeners. While there’s a programmatic undercurrent (“Books will show him the whole wide world”), most kids will forgive the didactic overlay in the name of comedy. Slonim’s acrylic-and-charcoal illustrations have a pleasantly informal silliness, with rough, sketchy charcoal lines partnering with the paint. Greens and yellows predominate in the garden setting, and the slugs’ little bug eyes are wildly expressive. Librarians may wince at the advice about underlining favorite words in slug slime, but reading teachers will get plenty of mileage from this how-to tale. Review Code: R — Recommended. 2011, Cavendish, Ages 5 to 8, $16.99.

REVIEWERS: Hope Morrison (The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books).

ISBN: 9780761458050

In a Glass Grimmly

Adam Gidwitz

This companion to A Tale Dark & Grimm (Dutton, 2010) echoes the tone and style of the earlier installment as it follows Jack and Jill on their adventures. While the duo falls down a hill and Jack has a serious head injury, much more awaits the two cousins as they try to find happiness through acceptance. Feeling dejected, the cousins take on a quest for a valuable lost glass in exchange for the fulfillment of their deepest desires upon the return of the item. They swear on their lives, and are off on a harrowing, humorous journey. Interjecting throughout, the narrator has an active role, warning of gore and violence ahead, all the while reminding the readers that the true stories behind the popular fairy tales they have heard are the ones unfolding on the pages of the book. Gidwitz pulls from many fairy tales, including Jack and the Beanstalk, The Frog Prince, and The Emperor’s New Clothes, to weave his story together and makes up some lore of his own along the way. It is an enjoyable, creative read rife with fairy tale violence and injury befalling the intrepid heroes and their clever, cautious, talking three-legged frog sidekick. The adults in this novel are not kind or loving, leaving the children to their own devices. Ultimately, the cousins find happiness in themselves and each other as they learn to really see themselves. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P M (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses) 2012, Dutton/Penguin, Ages 11 to 14, $16.99.

REVIEWER: Elizabeth Bush (The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books).

ISBN: 9780545384285

The Lily Pond

Annika Thor

Translated from the Swedish by Linda Schenck
Stephie Steiner and her sister are Jewish refugees who have escaped from Nazi-occupied Vienna to Sweden. They are separated from their parents, who are trapped in Austria. Through the kindness of her foster parents and others, Stephie is allowed to make a temporary home for herself in Sweden and enroll in school. But nothing about her new life in Sweden is ordinary. Faced with prejudice, inside the schoolroom and out, she finds that friends and enemies are difficult to identify. And her love for Sven, an eighteen-year-old political activist, complicates her life in ways that she could never have imagined. This book tells the story of Stephie as she copes with guilt over the fate of her parents, fear for her own future, and confusion about the class struggles of people around her. It is a powerful story of a young teenager who, in addition to dealing with her own emotions, must also cope with the dangers of a world in the midst of war. This is the second book in a planned four-part series. While reading the first book, A Faraway Island, would enrich one’s reading experience, the second book can be read on its own without any problem. The story is told in third-person, and in the present tense. Although the use of the present tense can be jarring, it is clear that the author has chosen it to convey the urgency of her story. The characters are believable, and the setting is compelling. Because of the multiple themes (first love, separation, anti-Semitism, and class injustice), this book has a broad appeal to both young and older teens. It is safe to say that readers will not be able to put this book down, and will no doubt be anticipating the next installment. 2011, Delacorte Press/Random House, Ages 12 to 18., $16.99.

REVIEWER: Erin Wyatt (VOYA).

ISBN: 9780525425816

Marc Brown’s Playtime Rhymes: A Treasury for Families to Learn and Play Together

Marc Tolan Brown

Brown shares 20 favorite “finger rhymes,” using tiny icon like boxes to demonstrate the hand gestures and bodily movements that accompany each line of verse. For “The Wheels on the Bus,” a cartoon boy mimics the movement of the wheels by spinning his hands round and round (arrows indicate movement); in the main illustration, a trio of passengers board a bus piloted by a cheerful redheaded woman in sunglasses. Other songs include “I’m a Little Teapot” (which features an anthropomorphic floral teapot and five teacups dancing around like ballerinas), “The Itsy Bitsy Spider,” and “Five Little Pigs.” Brown’s gouache and colored pencil artwork-which involves painting, scraping, and repainting gessoed wood panels-gives the book a vintage, weathered effect as it loosely guides readers through the seasons of the year and offers many hands-on opportunities for adult-child play. 2013, Little, Brown, Ages 3-6, $18.00.

REVIEWER: *Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly).

ISBN: 9780316207355

Mary and Her Little Lamb: The True Story of the Famous Nursery Rhyme

Will Moses

Moses (Raspberries!) proves that going behind the music needn’t uncover sex, drugs, or nervous breakdowns. He introduces readers to the real Mary of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” a 19th-century Massachusetts farm girl named Mary Elizabeth Sawyer who nurses a newborn lamb back to health and wins its woolly, unwavering loyalty. The lamb did indeed follow Mary into school-“bold and proud, just as if she had always belonged there”-on the same day that a visitor named John Roulstone was in attendance. In his era’s version of a tweet, Roulstone penned a pithy verse about the incident that proved tailor-made for repetition, embellishment, and musical adaptation (an afterword explains how the poem went viral, so to speak). Moses’ spot art can feel a little wooden, but his talent opens up in the full pages and spreads, where his doll-like characters, flattened perspectives, and expansively detailed settings show that the apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree (his great-grandmother is Grandma Moses). Even children too young to be nostalgic for nursery rhymes will enjoy this pop culture lesson wrapped up as a trip back in time. 2011, Philomel, Ages 1-up, $17.99.

REVIEWER: *Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly).

ISBN: 9780399251542

Max & Ruby’s Treasure Hunt

Rosemary Wells

Max and Ruby, the endearing plump bunny siblings, are about to have a tea party with Ruby’s friend Louise and her sister Lily when a thunderstorm sends them inside. Grandma suggests a treasure hunt. There are seven hidden clues leading to the treasure. To figure out each clue, the seekers must know traditional nursery rhymes and songs. They find the first clue in Max’s sneaker. Readers can lift the flap of the clue envelope to read it and guess it ahead of the characters. The answer is in a rhyme, giving a chance for word play, as the searchers look through the house. The treasure consists of five gold-colored chocolate coins. But there are only four searchers. They have lost Lily’s doll. Back through the clues they go to find her. “Hurray!” Wells adds a visual dance to supplement the verbal clues: she creates a border of twenty button-size pictures of the rhyming objects. Ink, watercolors, and gouache create the active characters, setting them within simple framed scenes. Young readers should enjoy joining in the hunt. A shiny gold chest surrounded by the characters makes the jacket appealing. 2012, Viking/Penguin Group, Ages 3 to 6, $17.99.

REVIEWER: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9780670063178

The McElderry Book of Mother Goose: Revered and Rare Rhymes

Compiled and illustrated by Petra Mathers

This fourth title in the McElderry Books series-following compilations of Greek myths, Aesop’s fables, and Grimm’s fairy tales-features more than 50 Mother Goose rhymes, illustrated in watercolor by Mathers with humor and emotional sensitivity. Joining familiar rhymes like “Hickory, Dickory, Dock” and “The Queen of Hearts” are many less-known selections, which often have somber subjects. Deaths and other injuries aren’t uncommon (“Little Betty Pringle, she had a pig./ He was not very little and not very big./ When he was alive, he lived in clover,/ But now he’s dead and that’s all over”), but they appear alongside rhymes comic, comforting, and clever to create a full, rich collection. 2012, McElderry, Ages 6-10, $21.99.

REVIEWER: ↔Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly).

ISBN: 9780689856051

Moo, Moo, Brown Cow, Have You Any Milk?

Phillis Gershator

Illustrated by Giselle Potter

Borrowing the first two lines from Baa Baa Black Sheep, the author takes a toddler classic and turns it into a delightful repetitive reading and exploring picture book. Placing gentle emphasis on numbers, colors, and animals allows children to explore both the lullaby and beginning concepts of animal homes and sounds. Part lullaby and part concept book, farm animals are asked by a little boy to share items they can provide for snack and bedtime. They provide a plentiful bounty, including wool for a blanket, down for a pillow and milk to drink. The story’s rhyme and melodic rhythm makes it fun to either read or sing or both. To sing along with the traditional tune, adults can add additional singsong animal sounds for the cow, sheep, goose, hen, and bee featured in the book. Text patterns can also be expanded with additional repetitive verses for the farm critters. With simple puppets, children may also enjoy performing the story as a play. Simple rhyming text with beautiful illustrations and colors. A wonderful, wonderful addition to a young reader’s personal or school library. Author Gershator has a friendly and insightful website that’s worth a Google look. Might this book be for you and your young reader? Yes sir, Yes sir, I think so! Hens and eggs; geese and down; bees and honey; sheep and wool. Yes sir, Yes sir, 40 pages full! 2011, Random House Children’s Books/Random House, Ages 2 to 7, $19.95.

REVIEWER: Suzanne Javid (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9780375867446

Mother Goose on the Loose: A Handbook and CD-ROM Kit With Scripts, Rhymes, Songs, Flannel-Board Patterns, and Activities for Promoting Early Childhood Development


Look no further for an innovative, creative, chock-full-of ideas programming resource for very young children (birth through age two). Children’s librarians and early childhood professionals in need of a complete, comprehensive guide will find this extremely helpful, easy-to-use and full of familiar and new songs and rhymes. The binder contains complete programs including scripts with instructions for presenter’s physical signals (in italics). There is a CD with programs and music included (tracks are referred to by number within the programs for ease of access). Additionally, Mother Goose on the Loose (MGOL) provides the novice and the veteran program developer with a wealth of information on child cognitive development, emergent literacy, instructions on program promotions, follow-up evaluations, and recommendations for other recorded music to use during programs. The subject and title index is well developed and easy to follow. The binder makes page removal simple. Highly recommended for all libraries involved with programming for young children. While the emphasis is for babies and toddlers these programs, books and activities can be used through preschool presentations. 2006, Neal-Schuman, Ages adult professional, $85, (paper).

REVIEWER: Connie Thorsen (Catholic Library World).

ISBN: 9781555705367

Mother Goose Picture Puzzles

Will Hillenbrand

Preschool and Kindergarten teachers will eagerly embrace this lively and energetic compilation of twenty familiar Mother Goose rhymes. Hillenbrand infuses his mixed media illustrations with charm and wit placing the characters firmly in a pastoral setting. Each rhyme, in a rebus format, is given center stage and within each picture the rebus symbols are identified. In some instances visually astute children will quickly see clues to the next rhyme. In Little Blue Boy, a black hen is seen atop the haystack, a foreshadowing of the rhyme to follow–The Black Hen. There is plenty of whimsy within the illustrations. Kids will giggle to see Humpty Dumpty carted away in the King’s Men ambulance and at King Cole’s fiddlers who just happen to be the Three Blind Mice. Visually this packs a wallop as readers will linger over the pages to point out all the details and teachers will find it not only an excellent choice to teach Mother Goose rhymes but also as a boon to reading readiness. 2010, Marshall Cavendish, Ages 3 to 6, $17.99.

REVIEWER: Beverley Fahey (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9780761458081

!Muu, moo! : rimas de animales = animal nursery rhymes

Selected by Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy

English versions by Rosalma Zubizarreta

Illustrated by Vivi Escrivaa

As they did in Pio Peep! Traditional Spanish Nursery Rhymes (HarperCollins, 2003), Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy draw on their own childhood favorites and other beloved poems from across Latin America in this bilingual (Spanish/English) collection of rhymes about animals. Added to this volume are several original rhymes written by Ada or Campoy. In their introduction, Ada and Campoy move beyond information to inspiration, writing, “During the extraordinary process of acquiring our first language, we learn to play with sounds, delighting in rhymes and alliterations. Thus, the folklore we encounter as children leaves a profound impact on our psyches . . . we extend an invitation to parents and teachers to remember their own childhoods, that we may create strong bonds of communication between yesterday and tomorrow.” Soft color illustrations by Vivi Escriva feature animals from the rhymes and people of the Americas. CCBC Category: Folklore, Mythology, and Traditional Literature. 2010, Rayo / HarperCollins, Ages 1-6, $16.99.

REVIEWER: CCBC (Cooperative Children’s Book Center Choices).

ISBN: 9780061346132

My Mother Goose: A Collection of Favorite Rhymes, Songs, and Concepts

David McPhail

Following the common use of “Mother Goose” to cover a multitude of traditional and written materials, McPhail here compiles over sixty verses and seven concept-based entries in this engaging volume. Familiar poems such as “Pease Porridge Hot,” “London Bridge,” and “Little Miss Muffet” rub shoulders with “Rock-a-bye, Baby” and “Over the River and Through the Woods” (which appears without credit to its author, Lydia Maria Child), while spreads on key subjects such as colors, numbers, shapes, the alphabet, and items of dress add point-and-share appeal. The layout is inviting and uncluttered, with creamy white backgrounds, occasional simple borders, and capitalized first letters of each entry (no titles). McPhail’s cast, depicted with soft woodsy tones and gentle hatching, is a mixture of humans and anthropomorphized animals, cheerfully interacting in many scenes; though there’s a touch of period style in dress and scenery, the kids involved display contemporary liveliness and diversity. Some of the vignettes offer their own drama or additional take on the story: Little Bo-Peep’s sheep are mischievously hiding on the shed roof behind her; a kindly bear reassuringly douses the flame on Jack Be Nimble’s candlestick; a dragon heats up the pease porridge hot with his fiery breath. This has gift book written all over it, and a pleasing one it will make too, since its value will extend past the unwrapping to actual use. An index of first lines and another of concept spreads are appended. Review Code: R — Recommended. 2013, Roaring Brook, Ages 1-4 yrs, $19.99.

REVIEWER: Deborah Stevenson (The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books).

ISBN: 9781596435261

Nursery Rhyme Comics: 50 Timeless Rhymes from 50 Celebrated Cartoonists

Introduction by Leonard S. Marcus

Illustrated by Patrick McDonnell … et al.

Fifty nursery rhymes have been given visual treatment by fifty different artists from the world of comics and graphic novels, picture books, and cartooning in this scintillating volume. Some artists take a literal approach and others take familiar verses to unexpected places. Cyril Pedrosa’s “This Little Piggy” is darkly funny, Drew Weing’s “Baa Baa Black Sheep” delightfully surprising, Mo Oh’s “Hush Little Baby” comic and tender. Craig Thompson heightens the sensuality and romance of “The Owl and the Pussycat” with his visual storytelling. And who knew “The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe” was an aging, guitar-playing hippie running a daycare? Artist Lucy Knisley did. Leonard S. Marcus’s introduction and Chris Duffy’s editor’s note offer insightful commentary on the nursery rhyme’s place in both literature and literacy (although suggesting the text of this particular volume is accessible to beginning readers is a stretch with the varied fonts and nonlinear layout on many pages). Despite the nursery rhyme theme, older children and teens will find pleasure and inspiration in the pages of this singular, brilliant work. CCBC Category: Folklore, Mythology, and Traditional Literature. 2011, First Second, Age 7 and older, $18.99.

REVIEWER: CCBC (Cooperative Children’s Book Center Choices).

ISBN: 9781596436008

Other Goose: Re-Nurseried, Re-Rhymed, Re-Mothered, and Re-Goosed Children’s Classics

J. Otto Seibold

Seibold’s manic characters and seasick palette give Mother Goose a jolt of Red Bull. Humpty Dumpty buys elevator shoes, Little Boy Blue gets a tuba (“The sheep are in Venice,/ and the cow’s in Aruba”), and his old woman, who lives in a sneaker, buys a stereo that ruins her hearing. Some rhymes are amped up (“Mary played a guitar jam/ with her little lamb”), some are goofy (“The little doggie clapped,/ the toothpaste stayed capped,/ and the cow cheered along with the moon”), and some need work in the rhyme and meter department (“He searched all the shelves/ again and again/ until Humpty found/ a true bargain”). The verse hardly matters, though, because the splat-bang humor and frenetic visuals grab most of the attention. When Simple Simon can’t remember why he’s at the fair (he’s simple, after all), a flowchart in the sky above him starts with “PIE!” but all roads lead to “WHY?” Packed with offbeat snark, this collection is as likely to end up on a 20-something’s coffee table as it is to join the bedtime reading pile. 2010, Chronicle, All ages, $19.99.

REVIEWER: Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly).

ISBN: 9780811868822

Pocketful of Posies: A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes

[Illustrated by] Salley Mavor

Simple Simon, Jack Sprat, the Old Woman in the Shoe, Little Miss Muffett–the Mother Goose gang is all here, and though their rhymes may be familiar, you will not want to miss a single page of Mavor’s unique collection. Illustrated with embroidered scenes, hand-sewn dolls, cozy felt, and unusual embellishments, Pocketful of Posies is truly a labor of love, sewn one stitch at a time. The fabric scenes seem to jump off the page, practically begging to be touched and played with. As a quilt is pieced together one square at a time, Mavor masterfully weaves together common nursery rhymes with the less familiar ones, and the illustrations feel as if they, too, are part of a larger masterpiece. Perhaps most striking is her pairing and juxtaposition of rhymes within a single setting. The pat-a-cake baker, mend-my-shoe cobbler, and put-the-kettle-on Polly are imagined as shopkeepers on a busy street, deftly tying three verses together in one gorgeous scene. Old Mother Hubbard, her poor dog, and the hickory, dickory dock mouse are pictured living together in a spare yet tidy home. And Mary and her little lamb will have you turning the book itself around and around as they go to school and back again. This beautiful picture book will be equally cherished by preschoolers and adults alike for its rich detail, inviting texture, and warmth. Indeed, Pocketful of Posies feels like a hand-made gift just for you! 2010, Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, Ages 3 up, $21.99.

REVIEWER: Leah Hanson (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9780618737406

Pussycat, Pussycat, Where Have You Been?

Dan Bar-el

Illustrated by Rae Mat

Dan Bar-el has taken Pussycat from the traditional rhyme far beyond London and the Queen’s chair, in a delightful romp around the world. The rich language is embellished with the beautiful and equally rich illustrations by Rae Mate. Printed on heavy, glossy paper this picture book is high quality in all ways. Pussycat’s narrative is shared with a young girl in her nightgown, as she quizzes him on his adventures following the scaring of the mouse. His journey takes him from France to Australia to the frozen North to Egypt, to the Canadian Prairies and beyond. “Pussycat, Pussycat, Did you get lost? I strayed from the path at whatever the cost. Pussycat, Pussycat, but were you all right? The kindness of strangers gave warmth to my night.” The accompanying illustration shows Pussycat sipping chocolate around a campfire with an elderly woman, a young child – and an alligator! Charming. The ending is most satisfying, with Pussycat claiming he “always will roam” but inviting the young girl, now in her coat and cap, to “travel with me, My partner, my friend.” The illustration shows them arm in arm, under a full moon, with a mouse perched on the girl’s beret. Dan Bar-el’s gift as a storyteller is evident throughout. The rhythm and rhyme of this story will make it a wonderful read aloud or pleasurable for a child to read on their own. Rae Mate’s considerable artistic skill shines. The whimsical illustrations enhance the story and will capture the attention of the young non-reader who could explore Pussycat’s adventures without the text. This book will also be enjoyed by children who like to memorize poems. This wonderful book, likely to become a classic, is highly recommended. Rating: E (Excellent, enduring, everyone should see it!). 2011, Simply Read Books, Ages 2 to 9. $16.95.

REVIEWER: Linda Irvine (Resource Links).

ISBN: 9781897476468

Spinster Goose

Lisa Wheeler

Illustrated by Sophie Blackall

As an introductory poem explains, Mother Goose can only do so much, and she’s sent the children whose misbehavior is beyond her control to her schoolmistress sister, Spinster Goose. Twenty-five verses, each based on or alluding to a popular nursery rhyme, then take a Struwwelpeter-esque tour through various brats’ egregious misbehavior, from “The Gum-Chewer” (“Chew-chaw, Margery Daw”) to “The Tattletale” (“Wee Willie Winkie/ runs through the school”). While some of the poems are stronger than others, there’s still plenty of entertainment in the grand old tradition of amusingly cataloging the wicked. Kids will appreciate the familiar underpinnings that make the verses easier to swallow, and they’ll enjoy the sly and bouncy rhymes (“But the child who got a Sunday detention/ did something too naughty for me to mention”). Curly title font, delicately framed illustrative vignettes, and a muted palette emphasizing grays and taupes lend a nineteenth-century air to the art, while Blackall’s precise, meticulous, slightly grotesque draftsmanship and fine detailing vibrate amusingly between Victorian and New Millennium. While readers may beg to differ on the seriousness of some of the malfeasance committed, they’ll still get a schadenfreude-y thrill out of all this poetic excoriation. Review Code: R — Recommended. (c) 2011, Atheneum, Grades 2-4, $16.99.

REVIEWER: Deborah Stevenson (The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books).

ISBN: 9781416925415

The Very Best Mother Goose Book Tower

Iona Opie

Illustrated by Rosemary Wells

Candlewick and illustrator Wells have gotten a lot of mileage out of her Mother Goose books. They first appeared as large compilations, then board books and now chunky block shaped board books that can be read and/or used for play. Among the rhymes selected many are familiar. In Jack and Jill there are 10 rhymes with the title one last. Even in this small format, Wells’ illustrations hold up and will bring lots of smiles to young faces. The text is small but printed in a clear, readable font. Wee Willie Winkie’s book features lullabies including some favorites such as Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and the title one with the admonition that children should be in bed by eight o’clock. Pussycat Pussycat features animal rhymes with Max shooing flies from his pie; Hey Diddle Diddle with the cow jumping over the moon and one of my favorites, Baa Baa Black Sheep. Pat-a-Cake, Pat-a-Cake features action rhymes where baby and caregiver have plenty of opportunity to interact in rhymes such as the titled one plus Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush and I’m a Little Teapot. The books are entertaining and will make a nice gift package. 2010, Candlewick, Ages 1 to 2, $9.99.

REVIEWER: Marilyn Courtot (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9780763649838

Weather Fun With Mother Goose

Compiled by Stephanie Hedlund

Illustrated by Jeremy Tugeau

The team of Hedlund and Tugeau provides teachers, librarians, and parents a great service in bringing together literature that has survived for centuries and yet focuses on a specific theme of interest for the 21st century reader. The informative introduction makes clear that the little rhymes have a heritage from the past. Even though the target audience is, perhaps, the preschool child or beginning reader, these literary gems that have survived the test of time will without doubt find their way into science classes of older students. Tugeau’s softly executed illustrations depict actions from joyous to sinister, supporting the mood of the text. The thirteen rhymes reflect themes from children splashing wildly in puddles to ladies lifting their skirts barely above their ankles to avoid a drop. Special features include an abbreviated glossary defining obscure language, and a web site that offers additional information about more nursery rhymes. This volume is a welcome edition to the shelves of libraries, classrooms, and homes. The reviewed title is a part of the “Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes” series. 2011, Magic Wagon/ABDO Group, Ages 3 to 6, $28.50.

REVIEWER: Janice DeLong (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9781616411473

What’ll I Do With the Baby-oh? Nursery Rhymes, Songs, and Stories For Babies

Jane Cobb

Illustrated by Kathryn Shoemaker

Children’s librarian Cobb (I’m a Little Teapot! Presenting Preschool Storytime) presents rhymes, stories, and book lists for newborns and toddlers in this creative resource geared toward early-childhood educators, parents, and caregivers. Because a child’s primary brain development occurs during the first three years of life, Cobb emphasizes the importance of properly utilizing this period. Cobb insists language play is needed on a daily basis to have the greatest impact during this time of growth. She cites nursery rhymes as powerful tools for fostering attachment and brain and language development. In separate chapters, Cobb presents various types of rhymes, including bouncing rhymes, games and dances, face rhymes, hand rhymes, greeting songs, lullabies, rhymes in other languages, toe wiggling rhymes, and good-bye songs. She also provides clear guidelines for both parents and educators on how to encourage and enhance development and offers sample programs for educators to use. Containing nearly every rhyme imaginable, this is a charming and useful resource for early-childhood educators, librarians, day care teachers, and parents of young children. Includes a CD of nursery songs. 2007, Black Sheep Press, Ages adult professional, $39.95

REVIEWER: Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly).

ISBN: 9780969866619

Updated 05/01/14

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