cover image MONSTER GOOSE


Judy Sierra, , illus. by Jack E. Davis. . Harcourt/Gulliver, $16 (56pp) ISBN 978-0-15-202034-7

Sierra (There's a Zoo in Room 22) and Davis (Bedhead) replace storybook characters with their ghoulish alter egos in this silly-scary Mother Goose knockoff. Every spread presents one revised rhyme and pictures the comical doppelgänger of a familiar figure. In "Mary Had a Vampire Bat," a fiendish girl frightens her classmates with her pet: "She brought him out for show-and-tell;/ The teacher screamed and ran./ And school was canceled for a week,/ Just as Mary planned." Green-skinned "Cannibal Horner" chomps off his own thumb ("A tasty young morsel am I!"), and the usual mouse is upstaged in "Slithery, dithery, dock,/ The snake slid up the clock." Sierra invites a sing-along in "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Slug" and "The itsy-bitsy spider/ Climbed up the warthog's snout," and she turns a song of sixpence into an even less appetizing yarn: "Sing a song of sea slime, sewer gas, and sludge./ Four and twenty wharf rats dipped in mocha fudge." Davis, working in acrylics and colored pencil, crowds his illustrations with monsters, vermin and gross gags. But he indicates the verses' humor by giving the characters diabolical ear-to-ear grins, shifty eyes and skulky postures. The Goose has been spoofed before, but this volume strikes a nice balance between goofy and ghastly. Ages 5-8. (Sept.)