cover image Here Comes Mother Goose

Here Comes Mother Goose

. Candlewick Press (MA), $22.99 (107pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-0683-1

Even if this volume isn't quite as illuminating as Opie and Wells's My Very First Mother Goose, it abounds with charm and wit; there is no one like Opie for collecting traditional verse, and no one like Wells for radiant, childlike visual interpretation. Both exhibit a puckish streak here. Opie, for example, introduces some rhymes that are distinctly American (""Away down east,/ away down west,/ Away down Alabama,/ The only girl that I love best/ Her name is Susianna""); others have a British accent (""I am a Girl Guide/ dressed in blue""). She mischievously transposes the sexes in the classic ""What are little boys/girls made of?""; Wells accordingly shows girls playing with frogs, snails and so on, while a troupe of Lilliputian-size boys in toques and bakers' uniforms pose next to comparatively huge spoons, milk bottles, etc. In the previous collection, Wells's ingenious and enlightening pictorial translations were a high spot; here, her gifts manifest themselves in dramatic palettes, clever casting and playful juxtapositions of classic and contemporary motifs. Mother Hubbard, for example, goes shopping on a motor scooter; she appears a second time, with her dog, and readers learn that her first name is Sukey; in a third showing, she figures on a poster for cake, at Banbury Cross. The artist's flair for detail emerges in such flourishes as miniature instruction cards outlining the steps for different dances (e.g., the polka, opposite verse about ""My Aunt Jane,/ She came from France,/ To teach to me the polka dance""; the tango, opposite ""I danced with a girl with a hole in her stocking""). Beautiful and beguiling, this book will win over just about everyone. Ages 2-up. (Oct.)