My Very First Mother Goose
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My Very First Mother Goose

4.6 3
by Iona Opie, Rosemary Wells

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To a small child, words are magical. And the most magical of all are the beloved, venerable words of Mother Goose. Now folklorist Iona Opie has gathered more than sixty treasured rhymes in their most perfect, honest form. From "Hey Diddle, Diddle" and "Pat-a-Cake" to "Little Jack Horner" and "Pussycat, Pussycat," these are


To a small child, words are magical. And the most magical of all are the beloved, venerable words of Mother Goose. Now folklorist Iona Opie has gathered more than sixty treasured rhymes in their most perfect, honest form. From "Hey Diddle, Diddle" and "Pat-a-Cake" to "Little Jack Horner" and "Pussycat, Pussycat," these are familiar verses that have been passed from parent to child for generations; these are the rhymes that are every child's birthright.

With watercolors by Rosemary Wells that may prove equally enduring, MY VERY FIRST MOTHER GOOSE captures the simple joy and the sly humor that are the essence of Mother Goose. Parents and children will find themselves exploring this volume together, savoring delightful details and funny surprises on every page. This is a book that promises hours of quiet smiles and merry grins for readers of all ages.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this exuberant anthology, Opie and Wells choose the best of Mother Goose's ageless work and polish it to a brilliant shine: more than 60 rhymes appear here in four chapters of large, toddler-friendly type. And for those who thought there were no new feathers to be plucked from this goose, Wells's rich watercolor interpretations, simultaneously classic and contemporary, are a revelation. Readers will probably agree with Opie's prefatory remark: "I firmly believe that Rosemary Wells is Mother Goose's second cousin and has inherited the family point of view." Her cast of bushy bunnies (think Max and Ruby), classy cats and the occasional human interact with a combination of wit, charm and ingenuity: Humpty Dumpty, for example, is a soft-boiled egg, knocked accidentally-on-purpose to the floor by a boy bunny at the breakfast table. Also strikingand appropriate for the intended audienceare the numerous scenes of adults and children working and playing together. The cozy, well-appointed settings and loving gestures project a reassuring intimacy. Wells also makes full use of an extended trim size. She encircles rhymes with spots of art, as in the Hungarian-style cat violinists that surround the text of "Hey diddle, diddle," or embellishes spreads with panels, identifying pig breeds in her depiction of "Whose little pigs are these?" and naming a few constellations alongside "Star light, star bright." Each rhyme begins with a sprightly decorated initial: a golden pear hangs from the "I" in "I had a little nut tree." Motifs recur subtly and purposefully, encouraging close inspection of the pages. A collaboration that both freshens and preserves the past, this volume deserves a prominent place not just in the nursery room but on the shelves of all who treasure illustrated books. Ages 2-up. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
Nursery rhymes go back centuries and this delectable collection selected by Opie and illustrated by Wells is a treat for the eyes and ears. The illustrations range from little insets and illustrated first letters of the rhymes to full pages and spreads. There is much to see and learn, and kids will spend hours exploring the pictures. There are connections among the illustrations that make the book all the more enjoyable. It's a wonderful gift book, and a welcome addition to any child's bookshelf.
Children's Literature - Susie Wilde
Why do the words of Mother Goose endure? These rhythms and rhymes have soothed babies for generations for their moods can either evoke play or sleep. They have comforted toddlers through transitions ("Jack and Jill", for example, has a tremendous healing power for a 2 year old who's just had a bad spill). They live in all our memories and are an important first step towards cultural literacy. Now there's a wonderful new volume, edited by Iona Opie who has spent her life collecting children's rhythms and games. The illustrations are by Rosemary Wells whose small bunnies are often some of the first pictures babies discover. Opie has done well selecting the poems with baby-appeal and Wells' bright, clear, tender illustrations make this a volume that will be treasured forever.
School Library Journal
PreS-KThe 60 plus rhymes in this collection are mostly the old-time favorites, but include some more recent ones such as "Shoo Fly" and "Down by the Station." Wells illustrates the selections with her usual winsome, quirky, anthropomorphic mice, rabbits, cats, pigs, bears, etc., and even includes some people. The lavish ink-and-watercolors are filled with action and delightful details. Ranging in size from tiny vignettes to double-page spreads, they are arranged on the pages in a variety of ways to complement the text. The typeface is large and very clear. Such a spirit of fun and pleasure emanates from every page of this big, handsome volume that although there are many distinguished entries in the nursery-rhyme book field, this one is sure to add special joy to any collection.Patricia Pearl Dole, formerly at First Presbyterian School, Martinsville, VA
Kirkus Reviews
My Very First Mother Goose ( Sept. 1996; 108 pp.; 1-56402- 620-5): One glimpse of the merry Wells (The Language of Doves, p. 1159, etc.) characters that caper through these pages—a cast of hundreds—one flip through the pages where Opie (I Saw Esau, 1992, etc.) has arranged almost 70 familiar and not-so-familiar rhymes to an effect of unabashed glee, and readers will be in love again with the original Mother Goose. There's little point in pretending that even prodigious collections of nursery rhymes can do without this one—it's a must.

Product Details

Candlewick Press
Publication date:
My Very First Mother Goose Series
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
10.75(w) x 11.65(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range:
3 - 5 Years

Meet the Author

Iona Opie has dedicated her life to collecting and preserving children's rhymes as an art form. "I suppose my message in life is 'Nursery rhymes are good for you.' And the sooner you start, the better. I always have one myself every morning. I just open a nursery rhyme book at random. This morning I read:
Taffy was born on a moonshiney night.

His head in a pipskin,
his heels upright.

You see, if you acquire a nursery rhyme-ical attitude, you're not at all put out by life's little bumps and bruises—they just seem funny and entirely normal."

Rosemary Wells says, "We live in a time when our language is shrinking. Mother Goose, which represents our language at its most innocent, playful, and profound, is in danger of disappearing completely. Rhymes that have been repeated and refined for forty generations are no longer being taught to children. It is a great honor to work with Iona Opie with the hope of preserving these rhymes for many generations more." Rosemary wells lives in New York.

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4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Knowing how to rhyme is a vital skill for beginning readers. As a former kindergarten teacher, I found many children had no knowledge of nursery rhymes and had trouble rhyming. Reading with your child and introducing a child to nursery rhymes helps to create a successful beginning reader. This book is big with beautiful illustrations, wonderful characters and fun rhymes. You can read it every day and soon your child will be saying his favorite rhymes.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A great way start your emerging reader with this adorable Mother Goose book. Wholesome, positive messages and colorful illustrations make this one a classic. Start your children off right with a timeless children's book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago