Posted in picture books

A tall tale about Mother Goose from Chris Raschka

Mother Goose of Pudding Lane (A Small Tall Tale), by Chris Raschka/Illustrations by Vladimir Radunsky, (Sept. 2019, Candlewick), $17.99, ISBN: 9780763675233

Ages 4-8

We’ve all grown up with Mother Goose: usually the British vision of a goose wearing a tall black hat, glasses down on her beak, and a shawl; sometimes, it’s a kindly old woman. But was there a real Mother Goose? Caldeott Medalist Chris Raschka and illustrator Vladimar Radunsky introduce the “real” Mother Goose: Elizabeth Foster, who, in 1692, married Isaac Goose – a widower with 10 children – in Boston and became Mother Goose. She sang songs and made up rhymes for her children (she and Isaac Goose went on to have four more children), which were published at a print shop on Pudding Lane in Boston. Although no copies of the original Mother Goose compilation exist today, we’ve all grown up with adaptations and additions to the legend. Here, Chris Raschka and Vladimir Radunksy recreate some of Mother Goose’s best-known, most beloved pieces while creating new poems and illustrations that recreate the life of Elizabeth Foster Goose, the Mother Goose of Pudding Lane.

Vladimir Radunsky’s playful, colorful gouache and pencil illustrations infuse the story with a sense of fun and joy: animals and people in colonial dress act out some of Mother Goose’s best-known rhymes, like “There Was an Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe”, “Old King Cole”, and “Baa Baa Black Sheep”. The story of Elizabeth and Isaac Goose is told in rhyme throughout, from their courtship to their old age. Endpapers include sketch art of a young Mother Goose in front, and an alphabet rhyme reprint in back.

A sweetly done fictional biography of a beloved figure in children’s literature.

Mother Goose of Pudding Lane has starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and Booklist.

Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Middle Grade, Tween Reads

Mother Goose’s legacy is passed on in The Secret Destiny of Pixie Piper

pixie piperThe Secret Destiny of Pixie Piper, by Annabelle Fisher/Illustrated by Natalie Andrewson, (May 2016, Greenwillow Books), $16.99, ISBN: 9780062393777

Recommended for ages 8-12

Fifth grader Pixie Piper discovers that she is a direct descendant of Mother Goose – yes, THAT Mother Goose – complete with her own goose, the ability to create amazing rhymes, and a bit of spellcasting magic. She has to protect her goose from the awful Raveneece – a descendant of the Sinister Sisters, who have some messy history with Mother Goose and the Goose Ladies – plus keep her status as a Goose Girl a secret, even from her mom and her best friend!

I really enjoyed this book. Pixie is very likable, as is her best friend, Gray, and her small group of friends at school. Her mom’s quirkiness and love of fairy tales appeals to me, so let me give a little side shout-out to moms out there: read the book! I love the idea of there being an actual Mother Goose, and having a legacy passed down – it’s not exactly what you may think, so that makes it even more fun. Destiny, Pixie’s goose, has her own personality, and the relationship between Des and Pixie is sweet. We’ve got a story with good Goose Ladies, mean Sinister Sisters, frenemies, and a Toilet Museum: this is summer reading gold.

This is the first of two books starring Pixie Piper, and I’m looking forward to spending more time in her world. Add this one to your middle grade fantasy collections and booktalk it with the Sisters Grimm, Grimmtastic Girls, Whatever After, and the Fairy Tale Reform School series.


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.