Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Good Golly This Goose Is Gothic

Mother Goose has reached the proverbial end of her rope.    In trying to turn the ways of naughty children to the right she has had little success.  An unusual, a frightful school headed by her sister is her only option.

...There are hundreds of rules
all beginning with NO,
and Spinster's bleak school
is the place you will go
if you are a brat
and you need to outgrow
your horrible habits.
She waits down below.

Spinster Goose:  Twisted Rhymes for Naughty Children (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, March 8, 2011) chronicles twenty-six wayward boys and girls from the world of nursery.  These rhymes are fractured with pithy, pointed phrases that point to sinister shadow images of what we thought we knew about Mother Goose.  Bobby Shaftoe is a thief, Baa Baa Black Sheep has a bad language habit, Little Miss Muffet enjoys chewing chalk, Jack Sprat and his wife have become cafeteria cooks from the dark side, Georgie Porgie is a bully and Mary of little lamb fame is a bold-faced liar.

The Nursery rhyme of old, There Was A Little Girl, has been morosely modified to read:
                             The Hair-Twirler
                      There was a little girl
                     who liked to twist and twirl
                     every single curl on her head.
                     When she was good, she was very, very good.
                     But when she was bad, she was...

The mind behind these twisted, terse textual renditions is none other than Michigan author, Lisa Wheeler .  Bubbling to the surface of each short tale is her offbeat, catchy humor.  Once the reader rolls these verses off their tongue, sideways glances will be shared with listeners before the laughter bursts out as all relish the wicked wackiness.  Her books, Bubble Gum, Bubble Gum, Boogie Knights, Dino-Baseball, Dino-Soccer, Dino-Hockey, One Dark Night and Mammoths on the Move, to name a few are ever popular with all our students.  What a joy to read this newest book by the writer who graced our Charlevoix Elementary School for a visit.  It seems just like yesterday. Her gift with words is as evident as ever.

Softly, menacing illustrations done in Chinese ink and watercolor by Sophie Blackall heighten the discord present in these poems.  At times the wide-eyed, sad children's heads are replaced by those of animals furthering the grim, off-kilter atmosphere of this educational institution.  Blackall's illustrations are most recognized in our school in the popular Ivy and Bean books, Meet Wild Boars and Wild Boars Cook. 

I can't wait to read her newly illustrated  Aldous Huxley's The Crows of Pear Blossom. 

While being suggested for younger elementary readers, this devilishly, delightful book would be most appreciated by older readers.

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