There should be a law that requires every child to sit on Grandpa's knee as he chants "Trot, trot, to Boston; trot, trot, to Lynn." Grownups who still giggle at the thought of Little Jack Horner pulling a plum out of his Christmas pie, or who make a wish on a star, murmuring "Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight" know the secret. They're the ones who will be handing down those same nursery rhymes to their own children, preserving an age-old tradition. But no child should be left behind.
In world folklore authority Iona Opie's collection, these invaluable and ancient nuggets of childhood verse are bursting with new life. Quirky and sly, sweet, gentle, rollicking, silly... the range of rhymes is breathtaking. Winner of over a dozen prestigious awards, including a Parents' Choice Award and an ALA Notable Children's Book award, this wonderful book is charmingly illustrated by Rosemary Wells, best known for her Max books (Max's Bath, Max's Bedtime, Max's Ride). A solid repertoire of nursery rhymes should be de rigueur for any aunt, uncle, grandparent, or parent worth his or her salt. This book is a must, as is its companion volume, Here Comes Mother Goose. (Click to see a sample spread from My Very First Mother Goose. Illustrations & copy; 1996 by Rosemary Wells. Permission from Candlewick Press.) (Baby to preschool) --Emilie Coulter
From Publishers Weekly
In this exuberant anthology, Opie and Wells choose the best of Mother Goose's ageless work and polish it to a brilliant shine: more than 60 rhymes appear here in four chapters of large, toddler-friendly type. And for those who thought there were no new feathers to be plucked from this goose, Wells's rich watercolor interpretations, simultaneously classic and contemporary, are a revelation. Readers will probably agree with Opie's prefatory remark: "I firmly believe that Rosemary Wells is Mother Goose's second cousin and has inherited the family point of view." Her cast of bushy bunnies (think Max and Ruby), classy cats and the occasional human interact with a combination of wit, charm and ingenuity: Humpty Dumpty, for example, is a soft-boiled egg, knocked accidentally-on-purpose to the floor by a boy bunny at the breakfast table. Also striking?and appropriate for the intended audience?are the numerous scenes of adults and children working and playing together. The cozy, well-appointed settings and loving gestures project a reassuring intimacy. Wells also makes full use of an extended trim size. She encircles rhymes with spots of art, as in the Hungarian-style cat violinists that surround the text of "Hey diddle, diddle," or embellishes spreads with panels, identifying pig breeds in her depiction of "Whose little pigs are these?" and naming a few constellations alongside "Star light, star bright." Each rhyme begins with a sprightly decorated initial: a golden pear hangs from the "I" in "I had a little nut tree." Motifs recur subtly and purposefully, encouraging close inspection of the pages. A collaboration that both freshens and preserves the past, this volume deserves a prominent place not just in the nursery room but on the shelves of all who treasure illustrated books. Ages 2-up.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.