cover image William Wegman's Mother Goose: Wegman's Mother Goose

William Wegman's Mother Goose: Wegman's Mother Goose

William Wegman. Hyperion Books for Children, $17.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-7868-0218-0

With their amber eyes and slouching postures, the weimaraner dogs photographed by Wegman haunt readers; the artist's use of human limbs in place of the animals' paws adds another dimension of strangeness. Yet in this collection of nursery rhymes, Wegman tones down the spooky shadows of, say, his Little Red Riding Hood in favor of bright pastels and airy negative space. The weimaraners solemnly consent to wearing a pink bonnet for ""Little Bo-Peep"" and a chef's hat for ""Three Men in a Tub"" and ""Pat-a-Cake""; once again, thanks to clever set design and draped costumery, some gesture with human fingers and feet. But their doggy nature is not wholly camouflaged: in the illustration for ""This Little Piggy,"" a canine farmer surreptitiously sniffs a rottweiler puppy ""piglet."" Wegman extends the comic element to the text by footnoting classic rhymes with dry advice. After ""Little Boy Blue,"" Mother Goose scolds, ""It's okay to take naps, but not when you are on duty,"" and ""Jack Sprat"" includes the low-fat warning that ""Mother Goose reminds you to eat more vegetables."" The book derives its edge as much from the freewheeling typography as from the dogs' intensity--although the eerily disguised hounds may still startle those unaccustomed to Wegman's approach. Ages 3-7. (Sept.)