Posted in Toddler Reads

Book Review: Mary Engelbreidt’s Mother Goose, by Mary Engelbreidt (Harper Festival, 2005)

Mary-Engelbreits-Mother-Goose-One-Hundred-Best-Loved-VersesRecommended for ages 3+

Mary Engelbreit’s Mother Goose brings together 100 nursery rhymes – some, well-known and loved; some lesser known – in one volume and illustrated in Ms. Engelbreit’s traditional nostalgic style. In a note at the end of the book, she writes about her granddaughter’s influence and the desire for the innocence of “simpler and slower times”. She created the illustrations by going with the first images that popped into her head after reading the poems over, and takes care to include images of children from different ethnicities. The colorful illustrations are laid out against a plain white background. The text is in a plain, black font, taking no attention away from the pictures. The illustrated characters are dressed in a variety of outfits, from medieval to modern, but always with a retro twist that Mary Engelbreit is known for. The endpapers feature popular nursery rhyme characters set against a sky blue backdrop.

There is usually one rhyme to a page, along with a companion illustration; there are two to a page for shorter rhymes, but the pages are never cluttered. More popular rhymes, like Humpty Dumpty, get their own spread. Some of the rhymes appear to be abridged, but this is not mentioned anywhere in the book. An introduction by Lenoard Marcus, an author, critic, and children’s literature historian, explains the history of nursery rhymes. There is a board book available for this title which is much shorter, for younger audiences. The book is also packaged with a CD, with Academy Award nominated and Golden Globe Award-winning actress Lynn Redgrave performing a full-length reading of the book.

A nursery rhyme storytime would be the perfect venue for this book, as the illustrations will draw young audiences’ attention. The popular nursery rhymes invite interaction, as the children and caregivers can recite rhymes along with the storytime leader. There are fingerplays for many of these rhymes. A reading can be enhanced by either a puppet show or a flannelboard, and there are many CDs with nursery rhymes that can can enhance a storytime craft; Prekinders is one of many sites that provide free nursery rhyme printables.

The author’s website features author information, a shop, and a crafts area where caregivers and educators can download coloring sheets and crafts.


I'm a mom, a children's librarian, bibliophile, and obsessive knitter. I'm a pop culture junkie and a proud nerd, and favorite reads usually fall into Sci-Fi/Fantasy. I review comics and graphic novels at WhatchaReading ( I'm also the co-founder of On Wednesdays We Wear Capes (, where I discuss pop culture and geek fandom from a female point of view.

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