If you're reading this on Amazon, you probably want to know how this book compares with other large-format Mother Goose nursery rhyme books. Here's my comparison of this book with four others.
This book (Favorite Nursery Rhymes from Mother Goose by Scott Gustafson, ISBN 978-0867130973) -- 45 rhymes. Published 2007. PLUSES: Illustrations (oil paintings) are large, detailed, varied, and fanciful; think a combination of Norman Rockwell, Walt Disney, and Salvador Dali. My favorites include "Jack Be Nimble" with Jack as a grasshopper, and "Simple Simon" as a monkey and the pieman as a gorilla. Several illustrations offset the "politically incorrect" aspects of the corresponding rhymes (e.g., for "Peter, Peter, Pumpkin-Eater" a squirrel couple serves pie to a boy in front of their pumpkin house). Some illustrations depict black and Asian children. MINUSES: Because only the first 1-4 verses from each rhyme is given, "Old Mother Hubbard" is missing a lot of verses. With the smallest selection of rhymes of the books reviewed here, it may not have some that your child may like (e.g., "Three Little Kittens"). SUMMARY: 5 stars.
Mary Engelbreit's Mother Goose: One Hundred Best-Loved Verses, ISBN 0060081716 -- Published 2005. PLUSES: If you like Engelbreit's artistic style, this book is for you. A number of illustrations depict black and Asian children. Has some uncommon rhymes (e.g., "Three Little Ghostesses" and "Terrence McDiddler"). I found no violent rhymes. MINUSES: Some illustrations do not fit the rhymes well. As one example, Jack Sprat's wife appears to have some "lean" vegetables and fruits on her side of the table (though certainly a much larger quantity of food than Jack himself). As another example, "Three Little Kittens" shows the kittens in large mittens on a clothesline, while the rhyme calls on them to be losing and putting on the mittens. Some pages (22, 28, 69, 76, 90, 93, 112, 117) have two rhymes on them, which might be slightly confusing, but on the other hand it might also be fun for kids to guess the relationship between the two rhymes on a page (e.g., "Red sky at night" and "Touch blue" both deal with colors). SUMMARY: 4 stars.
My Very First Mother Goose by Iona Opie and Rosemary Wells, ISBN 1564026205 -- 68 rhymes. Published 1996. Organized into four chapters ("Jack and Jill," "Hey Diddle, Diddle," "Little Jumping Joan," and "The Moon Sees Me"), although I couldn't figure out why certain rhymes fell into certain chapters. The large majority of the illustrations feature animals acting like people. PLUSES: Interplay of text and engaging watercolor illustrations is more creative than in any other book reviewed here. For example, "There was a crooked man" has many small illustrations for the rhyme, while the text of "Pop goes the weasel" is contained within the large illustration. Font sizes vary considerably, from very large to moderately small, and the large initial letters of many rhymes are painted with something relevant to the rhyme (e.g., train tracks for "From Wibbleton to Wobbleton"). Extra information -- like tiny illustrations for cake-making under the main "Pat-a-cake" illustration, and four constellations' names for "Star light, star bright" -- add to the variety. I found no sexist or violent rhymes. Has some uncommon rhymes (e.g., "Mrs. Mason bought a basin"). MINUSES: Some illustrations may be confusing; for example, "Humpty Dumpty" is an actual (from-the-chicken) small egg that gets knocked to the ground, not a "living character" as in other books. Non-Christians may question the inclusion of two "Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John" rhymes toward the end. SUMMARY: 5 stars.
The Real Mother Goose by Blanche Fisher Wright, ISBN 0590225170 -- 305 rhymes. First published 1916. Typography and illustrations (almost all of which depict people as opposed to animals acting like people) are either "nostalgic" (if you like them) or "old-fashioned" (if you don't). It has the smallest page size (8.5"x11") of the books reviewed here. PLUSES: Probably the most well-known, "classic" collection. Includes uncommon rhymes (e.g., "Comical Folk") and longer rhymes (e.g., "This is the House that Jack Built") not in the other books. MINUSES: I compared the current (1994 Scholastic/Cartwheel Books) printing with a previous (1991 Checkerboard Press) printing, and the color in the illustrations is less saturated than before. Has some rhymes and illustrations that could be considered "politically incorrect" (violent, sexist, etc.) such as "Little Polly Flinders" (in which a mother "whipped her little daughter") and "Peter, Peter, Pumpkin-Eater" (picturing a woman stuck inside a pumpkin). Multiple rhymes on each page could be confusing to young readers. SUMMARY: 4 stars.
Richard Scarry's Best Mother Goose Ever (Giant Little Golden Book), ISBN 0307155781 -- 50 rhymes. First published 1964. PLUSES: Endearing large illustrations feature animals acting like people. The use of pigs is especially nice (e.g., a clothed pig stealing a gingerbread pig for "Tom, Tom, the piper's son" and Georgie Porgie as a boy pig "snouting" a girl pig). Has some uncommon rhymes (e.g., "The cat sat asleep by the side of the fire"). MINUSES: Has some rhymes and illustrations that could be considered sexist (e.g., "When I was a bachelor" and "I had a little hen") or violent (e.g., "Fe, Fi, Fo, Fum" and "Taffy Was a Welshman"). There is a certain monotony to the illustrations, and all of them follow their rhymes fairly literally, so I'm not sure they would hold older children's attention well. SUMMARY: 4 stars.
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