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Mary Engelbreit's Mother Goose: One Hundred Best-Loved Verses Hardcover – September 20, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Score one for tradition. For listeners seeking a classic collection of the beloved nursery rhymes, this volume collected by author/artist Engelbreit and read in a bright and inviting tone by Redgrave will be the perfect cup of tea. The British actress is an inspired choice here, providing crisp pronunciation and lilting rhythm throughout. Cheery and playful without being silly, her performance catches all the fun-to-say and fun-to-hear elements of the verse. Marcus leads off with his praise of Mother Goose's ability to encourage children's love of language. From there, Redgrave's reading is largely unfettered, with brief pauses between each rhyme and a snippet of guitar instrumentals nestled after every 10selections. The recording works fine as a standalone, but may also serve as a read-along with Engelbreit's simultaneously released—and intricately illustrated—anthology of the same name. All ages. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
From School Library Journal
PreSchool-Grade 1–A popular artist has illustrated 100 nursery rhymes in her distinctive style, reminiscent of the work of Kate Greenaway and Tasha Tudor. Historian and critic Leonard S. Marcus provides an introduction about the staying power of Mother Goose rhymes, and Engelbreits afterword discusses her illustration process. Well-known rhymes are included, along with some that will be less familiar to both children and adults. No more than three rhymes appear on any spread, giving the layout a clean, uncluttered look. The illustrations feature children and adults of various ethnicities and ages, although almost all have the simple rounded faces and bodies for which the artist is known. Engelbreit has outfitted her characters, both fantastic and human, in a variety of period clothes, from medieval to more contemporary. Most have an English look to them–little boys wear short pants and knee socks, and little girls wear flowered dresses and pinafores. There are occasional comic touches, like the pussycat coming back from visiting the queen in shades and a pink coat, and with lots of luggage. Endpapers feature old-fashioned pastel renderings of well-known nursery-rhyme characters. This volume is likely to prove popular with children and Engelbreits adult following. A solid collection that would be useful in any library.–Barbara Chatton, College of Education, University of Wyoming, Laramie
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Top customer reviews
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The drawings are very precious, with lots of detail and decoration. Every table cloth is embroidered and every animal has a frilly collar or chain of flowers around its neck. The effect is a kind of preciousness, but also a flatness that might not be to your liking. I know that the style of illustration is popular, but I keep thinking I'm looking at a cheap box of cookies. It is good for kids--there are lots of little details to notice and appreciate and the quality of the reproductions is excellent (the pencil work especially is very textured and subtle)--but be aware that it might not be to your taste if you like the more Victorian look of Blanche Fisher Wright's famous version. This one: The Real Mother Goose Golden Anniversary Edition 1916-1966
Further, the poems are occasionally broken up in odd ways. The "Queen of Hearts," rhyme, for example, is given entirely new line breaks for one stanza, but not another. An odd and irritating change which makes the poem less musical.
So buyer beware.
I wrote the above when my daughter was about six months. She's thirteen months now and loves this book to death, so much so that I have to buy a new copy to replace the first which is torn and dirty. I still don't like the illustrations, and the weird line breaks annoy me more than ever. Plus, it's hard not to notice that while the children are across the rainbow of ethnicity, all the adults are white. The rhymes selected are pretty sanitized as well--there are few that address class or have bad kids the way that many of the poems in the Fisher Wright version do.
But there's no denying that the detailed illustrations are great for children. My daughter loves pointing out all the cats (there are a lot of cats) and birds and flowers everywhere, and she just loves the poems. Sometimes I see her with the book opening babbling to herself and patting the page to keep a beat.
So feel mixed about it. But if my daughter grows up papering her walls with cutsie cat pictures, I'm blaming Engelbreit. :-)
This book (Mary Engelbreit's Mother Goose: One Hundred Best-Loved Verses, ISBN 0060081716) -- Published 2005. PLUSES: If you like Engelbreit's artistic style, this book is for you. A number of illustrations depict black and Asian children. Has some uncommon rhymes (e.g., "Three Little Ghostesses" and "Terrence McDiddler"). I found no violent rhymes. MINUSES: Some illustrations do not fit the rhymes well. As one example, Jack Sprat's wife appears to have some "lean" vegetables and fruits on her side of the table (though certainly a much larger quantity of food than Jack himself). As another example, "Three Little Kittens" shows the kittens in large mittens on a clothesline, while the rhyme calls on them to be losing and putting on the mittens. Some pages (22, 28, 69, 76, 90, 93, 112, 117) have two rhymes on them, which might be slightly confusing, but on the other hand it might also be fun for kids to guess the relationship between the two rhymes on a page (e.g., "Red sky at night" and "Touch blue" both deal with colors). SUMMARY: 4 stars.
Favorite Nursery Rhymes from Mother Goose by Scott Gustafson, ISBN 978-0867130973 -- 45 rhymes. Published 2007. PLUSES: Illustrations (oil paintings) are large, detailed, varied, and fanciful; think a combination of Norman Rockwell, Walt Disney, and Salvador Dali. My favorites include "Jack Be Nimble" with Jack as a grasshopper, and "Simple Simon" as a monkey and the pieman as a gorilla. Several illustrations offset the "politically incorrect" aspects of the corresponding rhymes (e.g., for "Peter, Peter, Pumpkin-Eater" a squirrel couple serves pie to a boy in front of their pumpkin house). Some illustrations depict black and Asian children. MINUSES: Because only the first 1-4 verses from each rhyme is given, "Old Mother Hubbard" is missing a lot of verses. With the smallest selection of rhymes of the books reviewed here, it may not have some that your child may like (e.g., "Three Little Kittens"). SUMMARY: 5 stars.
My Very First Mother Goose by Iona Opie and Rosemary Wells, ISBN 1564026205 -- 68 rhymes. Published 1996. Organized into four chapters ("Jack and Jill," "Hey Diddle, Diddle," "Little Jumping Joan," and "The Moon Sees Me"), although I couldn't figure out why certain rhymes fell into certain chapters. The large majority of the illustrations feature animals acting like people. PLUSES: Interplay of text and engaging watercolor illustrations is more creative than in any other book reviewed here. For example, "There was a crooked man" has many small illustrations for the rhyme, while the text of "Pop goes the weasel" is contained within the large illustration. Font sizes vary considerably, from very large to moderately small, and the large initial letters of many rhymes are painted with something relevant to the rhyme (e.g., train tracks for "From Wibbleton to Wobbleton"). Extra information -- like tiny illustrations for cake-making under the main "Pat-a-cake" illustration, and four constellations' names for "Star light, star bright" -- add to the variety. I found no sexist or violent rhymes. Has some uncommon rhymes (e.g., "Mrs. Mason bought a basin"). MINUSES: Some illustrations may be confusing; for example, "Humpty Dumpty" is an actual (from-the-chicken) small egg that gets knocked to the ground, not a "living character" as in other books. Non-Christians may question the inclusion of two "Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John" rhymes toward the end. SUMMARY: 5 stars.
The Real Mother Goose by Blanche Fisher Wright, ISBN 0590225170 -- 305 rhymes. First published 1916. Typography and illustrations (almost all of which depict people as opposed to animals acting like people) are either "nostalgic" (if you like them) or "old-fashioned" (if you don't). It has the smallest page size (8.5"x11") of the books reviewed here. PLUSES: Probably the most well-known, "classic" collection. Includes uncommon rhymes (e.g., "Comical Folk") and longer rhymes (e.g., "This is the House that Jack Built") not in the other books. MINUSES: I compared the current (1994 Scholastic/Cartwheel Books) printing with a previous (1991 Checkerboard Press) printing, and the color in the illustrations is less saturated than before. Has some rhymes and illustrations that could be considered "politically incorrect" (violent, sexist, etc.) such as "Little Polly Flinders" (in which a mother "whipped her little daughter") and "Peter, Peter, Pumpkin-Eater" (picturing a woman stuck inside a pumpkin). Multiple rhymes on each page could be confusing to young readers. SUMMARY: 4 stars.
Richard Scarry's Best Mother Goose Ever (Giant Little Golden Book), ISBN 0307155781 -- 50 rhymes. First published 1964. PLUSES: Endearing large illustrations feature animals acting like people. The use of pigs is especially nice (e.g., a clothed pig stealing a gingerbread pig for "Tom, Tom, the piper's son" and Georgie Porgie as a boy pig "snouting" a girl pig). Has some uncommon rhymes (e.g., "The cat sat asleep by the side of the fire"). MINUSES: Has some rhymes and illustrations that could be considered sexist (e.g., "When I was a bachelor" and "I had a little hen") or violent (e.g., "Fe, Fi, Fo, Fum" and "Taffy Was a Welshman"). There is a certain monotony to the illustrations, and all of them follow their rhymes fairly literally, so I'm not sure they would hold older children's attention well. SUMMARY: 4 stars.
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