In the introduction to his charming new Mother Goose collection, David McPhail, prolific author and illustrator of such beloved titles as Mole Music, the Pig Pig books and Emma’s Pet, fondly recalls how his mother “would hold me in her lap and, in her sing-song voice, recite them to me. I never forgot them, and when I had children of my own, I was able to pass the rhymes along.”
Such sweet memories belong in every family, yet I’ve met quite a few parents who either overlook or don’t see the value in such a tradition. Why, they might as well be Little Boy Blue, oblivious to the sheep in the meadow and the cow in the corn! What child does not delight in being held, rocked, and bounced to rollicking, nonsensical Mother Goose rhymes? Who wants to miss out on this party?
Babies do not demand sense from rhymes. They simply enjoy the cuddling, along with the sounds, rhythm, repetition and illustrations. I remember how my firstborn daughter would “request” her favorites by flipping through the book until she found the image she was seeking. Then she would pound on that page and say “my my.” In case you’re puzzled, that meant, in a 10-month-old’s vocabulary, “Three Blind Mice.”
I love to give a bright collection to new parents, and this year I will be passing along My Mother Goose: A Collection of Favorite Rhymes, Songs, and Concepts. The well-chosen selection of 60 rhymes is pleasingly arranged and beautifully illustrated with images of McPhail’s familiar anthropomorphic animals and playful children reading, romping, and joining bears and pigs and the like in joyful adventures.
Rhymes that share some connection often follow one another. For instance, the “pease porridge hot” rhyme precedes the “pat-a-cake” rhyme, whimsically illustrated with an aproned bear slipping a cake into the oven. Similarly, “Great A,/ little a,/Bouncing B” is followed by the entire alphabet, depicted with an assortment of shaggy beasts and lively children.
The book’s size, a little smaller than some Mother Goose titles, but large enough to show off McPhail’s bright artwork, makes the book easy to hold, even with a baby in your lap.
So, hey diddle diddle, why not jump over to your local bookstore to get this lovely new collection for some fortunate little one? Who knows? You might give young parents just the nudge they need to become a part of a wondrous tradition.
Other recommended Mother Goose books:
- History in Nursery Rhymes: Three Blind Mice (artlark.org)