Monday, January 26, 2015

Kate Greenaway's Mother Goose

Kate Greenaway's Mother Goose or the Old Nursery Rhymes contains 44 rhymes.  Each rhyme is on it's own page with a full-color illustration.  I am certain that the original illustrations are fantastic, as they are highly regarded, but I was disappointed in the quality of images in these reprints.

Humpty Dumpty

The formatting is clean and uncluttered.

Lovely ladies.

Alternatively, Kate Greenaway's Family Treasury contains 27 of the old nursery rhymes along with selections from some of her other books, A Applepie, Book of Games, Marigold Garden, and Under the Window.

It sounded like a great deal, but the cover was decieving and the pictures inside the book are terrible.  Not only are they poor quality, the colors are harsh and the beauty of Kate Greenaway's illustrations are completely lost.

I wouldn't recommend these editions in particular, but for anyone who really likes Victorian illustration, Kate Greenaway is a fascinating artist.  I would be hesitant to purchase any more of her books sight unseen, though.  My mother-in-law picked up the first one at a library book sale and the other I believe came from paperbackswap.

My oldest daughter thinks Kate Greenaway's pictures are pretty, but she said if I were to give them away, she would not miss them.  There are many unfamiliar rhymes, and several are abridged.  Humpty Dumpty, for example, includes just the first two lines, though it is one of my favorite illustrations.  Plus, you can check out a lot of Kate Greenaway's work at Project Gutenberg, here.  There's a lot to be said for keeping physical copies of books, but only if the book is worth keeping.

Have you ever been utterly disappointed in the quality of a book you bought?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Mother Goose by Gyo Fujikawa

My 5 year old daughter likes the colorful pictures that Gyo Fujikawa drew to illustrate this Mother Goose volume best.  As a matter of fact, all of my children like this edition and I really like the way this book of nursery rhymes is arranged, too.

Each rhyme has a corresponding illustration, whether they are individual black and white line drawings, color illustrations, or a full-color page with several related rhymes.

This has to be my favorite Old Woman in a Shoe

I can wholeheartedly recommend this Mother Goose.  It is definitely one of our favorites.  Gyo Fujikawa's illustrations are sweet and appealing to both boys and girls.

There are several neat "themed" pages like this.

Originally printed in 1968, the verses are familiar versions, though I would be surprised if you knew them all!  A quick count of the Contents shows 318 rhymes, and the index of first lines makes it easy to find particular rhymes.

Gyo illustrates some of the best end pages!
I have a few more of these, but I will try to keep them short and sweet and finish up soon!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Real Mother Goose

This is a library-bound book.  The hardcover has a black and white checked border.

Despite the title, I am not sure what makes The Real Mother Goose, illustrated by Blanche Fisher Wright any more authentic than any others, particularly the older editions such as "The Only True Mother Goose Melodies", 1833.  First published in 1916, "The Real Mother Goose" is a thorough collection of rhymes and is generously illustrated in full color.  However, we don't particularly like the way the text is arranged because it detracts from the brightly colored vintage illustrations. 

Gorgeous illustrations, but line spacing for the text is distracting.  Does one of these illustrations go to Peter Piper?  No.  That just confuses my kids.

You can see the contents of this book online if you click on this link.  It is easy to navigate since each rhyme in the index (listed alphabetically and by first line) is linked to the rhyme in the text.  I also like being able to click on each illustration to view it larger.  I think it would be nice if someone published an abridged edition that showcases each of Blanche Fisher Wright's illustrations with their accompanying rhymes more attractively formatted.

Notice how the end of a rhyme from the previous page flows over and it is hard to see which illustrations match the rhymes?

Since our library has a copy of this edition and we can easily read it on-line (besides the fact that not one of my children particularly likes this book), this will probably be another collection that we pass along (though I do really love these illustrations!)

This is one of the best thought out pages with the extra rhyme about rain actually matching one of the illustrations.

Up next: a Mother Goose collection that we all love.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Brian Wildsmith's Mother Goose

I am usually a huge fan of Brian Wildsmith's work, so when I saw his Mother Goose: A Collection of Nursery Rhymes, I was excited.  My 5 year old, who likes everything, says that she likes this book well enough, and there are several great illustrations, like this one of Little Boy Blue.

However, I have to agree, with my older children, that this is not one of my favorite editions. It is, for the most part, not terribly colorful.  Perhaps you can tell, from looking at a few of these spreads, why we don't love this book and will probably be passing it along.

Gray and dreary folks, here.
Why is Mary so old?
Interesting, but not beautiful.
I usually love his birds, but the robin on the left see.
The hardcover edition I have is a 1992 reprint and I think maybe a different edition might be more colorful.  The paperback to which I provided a link, above, has a "Look Inside" feature in which the colors appear brighter than the ones in my book.  There are 86 rhymes in this 80 page book.  There are a few pages that have several short rhymes and their illustrations mashed together and a few that take up two pages, but most are arranged singly, as shown.

I will leave you with another good one!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Wee Sing Nursery Rhymes and Lullabies

When I am reading through our Mother Goose nursery rhyme books, I often find myself singing them.  Many of the editors and  illustrators of the collections mention that they have fond memories of the rhymes being sung to them on their mother's lap and how they sang Mother Goose melodies and lullabies to their children.  When I was growing up, we had several Wee Sing cassette tapes by Pamela Conn Beall and Susan Hagen Nipp.  One of the first gifts my mother purchased for my girls when they were young was the Wee Sing Nursery Rhymes and Lullabies Audio CD.  It comes with a paperback sing-along booklet with simple line illustrations and musical notation for singing or playing the songs by Nancy Spence Klein.  The rhymes are linked together in a story as some nursery rhyme characters make their way to London town with gifts for Old King Cole's birthday.

Although this is not one I had as a child (I learned my nursery rhyme tunes from records that my mom picked up at a garage sale), the tunes were either familiar or easy to learn.  If you don't know many tunes and are not confident in your singing abilities, I feel that this is a good place to start.  There are plenty of free resources online for sung nursery rhymes, and your library probably has a few CDs of sung nursery rhymes and lullabies that you can borrow; but if you are looking for something to give a new mom or buy for your little ones, I can attest that this CD has gotten many hours of use while driving, or playing quietly at naptime.  As my children have shown interest in learning the piano or other instruments, the musical booklet has come in handy.  It sometimes includes additional verses that they don't sing on the CD.

Alternatively, there is a Wee Sing Mother Goose Audio CD that you may prefer.  There is no narrator or "story"; children just read, then sing the included rhymes and the focus is exclusively on Mother Goose rhymes, whereas our CD has a smaller selection of "Mother Goose" rhymes but also inludes other nursery rhymes like "Six Little Ducks" and "Over In the Meadow" along with a selection of lullabies.  I like that amazon lets you play samples of each to see if you prefer one or the other.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Dean's Mother Goose Book of Rhymes

When I found an old, very used copy of Dean's Mother Goose Book of Rhymes, I wasn't sure if I was bringing home trash or a treasure. My two oldest girls really liked Janet and Anne Grahame Johnstone's detailed full-color illustrations and still rank this Mother Goose collection as one of their favorites, even though a few pages are colored on, and some are falling out.  There are several rhymes that we had never heard and wonder if they were more popular in England than America. Unfortunately, this book is out of print and appears to be quite collectible. There are no inexpensive used copies on amazon for this 176 page 1977 edition.

One of my favorites.

This book was "Originally published as: Deans Gift Book of Nursery Rhymes (80 pages?*) New Gift Book of Nursery Rhymes (76 pages) Gift Book of Pussy and Puppy Nursery Rhymes (62 pages)" so I assume it takes the unique rhymes from each of those 3 editions and combines them.

I have a few kids who struggle with math.

These illustrations are so fascinating.  The twin sisters were never married or had children of their own, but they captured childhood so perfectly in their illustrations.  They would work on each drawing together, passing it back and forth until they both agreed it was complete.  Janet was particularly good at drawing animals. Anne was more adept at drawing the people and buildings.  Their mother was a costume designer, among other things, so it is not surprising that the clothing is so exquisitely detailed in their illustrations.

My 12-year old's favorite page.

If you are interested in acquiring an inexpensive version of Mother Goose rhymes illustrated by Janet and Anne Grahame Johnstone,the ABC Book of Children's Rhymes and Verse appears to be a reasonably priced 176 page edition that was also published in 1977.  Goodreads says it includes ABC Apple Pie, ABC Nursery Rhymes, Nursery Rhymes Old and New, and The Pied Piper of Hamelin.  The 1984 edition, My Best Book of Rhymes (93 pages) looks like another possibility, though I have never seen either of these books.

Have you ever heard of Little Blue Ben?

It seems like there are actually quite a few different collections of nursery rhymes that were illustrated by Janet and Anne Grahame Johnstone, including board books, and these make up just a fraction of over 200 books they had published.  They are worth keeping an eye out for at garage sales and thrift stores.

I love how they imagined everything that might have been going on in this scene.

*I think this Gift Book of Nursery Rhymes might be a much cheaper version of the "Dean's Gift Book of Nursery Rhymes" listed above.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Mother Goose: The Original Volland Edition

Frederick Richardson illustrated 108 of the "best of the verses," according to Eulalie Osgood Grover in her 1915 Mother Goose: The Original Volland Edition.  She goes on to admit, however that "Not all the favorites among the nursery rhymes are here, only those that first helped to make the fame of the ficticious but no less worthy patron of childhood."  The 4 page foreword, which considers the appeal and value of Mother Goose 'melodies' also provides interesting historical details regarding the origins of these rhymes and advocates for the preservation of the original melodies "...except by those who are in such close sympathy with the child-heart that they may act with the child's authority."

I found that many of the rhymes were quite different than the modern verses with which I am familiar (such as Pat a cake and Little Boy Blue); and there were some I had never heard before (such as Cock, cock, cock, cock).  It is interesting to compare the "original" rhymes to the ones printed in modern Mother Goose books and to see which rhymes haven't changed at all!

To me, the biggest drawback to this edition is that the index simply lists the rhymes in order of appearance and doesn't even provide page numbers.  Nevertheless, I think that the full-page, full-color illustrations are spectacular.  My children think some of the people are strange looking (like that crazy old woman, above) and this is not one of their favorites.  I feel like the reproductions in this edition are fairly good, but expect that they pale in comparison to the original lithographs.  You can view the Volland Edition on-line at Project Gutenbetg here.

You may be interested to read about Frederick Richardson, whom I previously only knew as the illustrator of L. Frank Baum's Oz books, here: