cover image Babushka's Mother Goose

Babushka's Mother Goose

Patricia Polacco. Philomel Books, $19.99 (64pp) ISBN 978-0-399-22747-9

Renowned for portraying favorite episodes of her family's history in her picture books, Polacco (Pink and Say; Chicken Sunday) here mines the treasures of her grandmother's Russian heritage. Many of the 24 stories and rhymes in this unusual volume are culled from the storytelling sessions Polacco remembers sharing with her beloved Babushka. While a couple of the narratives are clunky, children will relish the generally jaunty language and the sound of foreign names and places (``Babushka pulled Diadushka,/ Diadushka pulled the turnip;'' ``Klootchka Plootchka count your little toes;'' ``The Train to Ivanovo.'' Some of her strongest work, the gouache and pencil illustrations here show an impressive range of composition. In a slight stylistic shift, Polacco has included a cast of whimsically drawn, anthropormophic animals that have a clean, childlike simplicity. These new characters fit right in with her typically robust and kind human figures bedecked in bold Russian frocks. This exotic-flavored volume is a welcome addition to the nursery rhyme shelf. Ages 3-7. (Sept.)