Lap reading with babies means sharing sweet verses like these beloved Mother Goose rhymes.
Books and vibrant language are vitally important early learning tools. With that in mind, selected poems from Iona Opie’s classic Mother Goose nursery-rhyme compilations are gathered here in a sturdy, baby-friendly board book just right for lap time, nap time, or any time, really. Accentuating the soothing rhymes are cuddly creatures warming their hands and wishing on stars. So snuggle up with Mother Goose and give the hush-a-bye baby in your life a solid and loving head start.
About the Author
Iona Opie has dedicated her life to collecting and preserving children’s rhymes as art form and believes that “nursery rhymes are good for you.” In partnership with her late husband, Peter Opie, she edited many acclaimed books of children’s folklore, including The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes. She lives in England.
Rosemary Wells is the author and illustrator of more than sixty books for young readers. She has won many awards, including more than twenty American Library Association Notable Book citations, a New York Times Book Review Best Illustrated Book of the Year Award, and a Boston Globe–Horn Book Award. She lives in upstate New York.
“I suppose my message in life is ‘Nursery rhymes are good for you,’” Iona Opie (1923–2017) once said. “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.”
Having dedicated most of her life to collecting and preserving children’s rhymes and games, Iona Opie was considered the world’s authority in the field. In partnership with her late husband, Peter Opie, she edited many acclaimed books of children’s folklore, among them I Saw Esau: The Schoolchild’s Pocket Book, a splendid selection of jeers, riddles, and jump-rope rhymes chanted by generations of children. “I grew up in a very sheltered, placid environment, and the first time someone was nasty to me I crumpled in tears,” noted the anthologist. “I didn’t learn to speak up for myself until I joined the Air Force. You need to be introduced to possible troubles early on from a safe haven, then it’s not such a shock later.” First published in 1947, I Saw Esau was revised in 1992 and republished with appropriately wicked illustrations by Maurice Sendak.
Iona Opie also garnered resounding praise for her best-selling My Very First Mother Goose and the follow-up, Here Comes Mother Goose, both illustrated by the award-winning Rosemary Wells. The quintessential introduction to the sly wit and simple joy that are the essence of Mother Goose, these definitive collections — called “as essential for baby as is a crib” by the Boston Globe — were both named a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year and have received many other awards.
At the heart of these timeless volumes is Iona Opie’s enthusiasm for her subject matter — and her decidedly wry sense of humor. “Mother Goose will show newcomers to this world how astonishing, beautiful, capricious, dancy, eccentric, funny, goluptious, haphazard, intertwingled, joyous, kindly, loving, melodious, naughty, outrageous, pomsidillious, querimonious, romantic, silly, tremendous, unexpected, vertiginous, wonderful, x-citing, yo-heave-ho-ish, and zany it is,” she said. “And when we come to be grandmothers, it is just as well to be reminded of these twenty-six attributes.”
Rosemary Wells is “Mother Goose’s second cousin,” declares Iona Opie, the renowned authority on children’s rhymes who edited My Very First Mother Goose, Here Comes Mother Goose, and Mother Goose’s Little Treasures. Each acclaimed collection features Rosemary Wells’s illustrations, fanciful images that abound in witty cross-references and absorbing details that “children love pointing out to grown-ups who probably haven’t noticed them,” Iona Opie says.
Born in New York City, Rosemary Wells grew up in a house filled with “books, dogs, and nineteenth-century music.” After a brief tenure at the Museum School in Boston, she married and began a career as a book designer, then published her own first picture book in 1968. From the start, Rosemary Wells’s work has been recognized for its strong sense of humor and realism and its gently rebellious approach to childhood. Her books have received numerous honors, including a New York Times Book Review Best Illustrated Book of the Year and a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year award for My Very First Mother Goose.
Young children everywhere have adored the more than sixty picture books Rosemary Wells has created over some three decades. “Simple incidents from childhood are universal,” she says. “The children and our home life have inspired many of my books.” Among them are two endearing books she wrote and illustrated, Felix Feels Better (a New York Times bestseller) and Felix and the Worrier, both about a lovable little guinea pig. “Most of my books use animals rather than children as characters,” Rosemary Wells admits. “People always ask why. There are many reasons. First, I draw animals more easily and amusingly than I do children. Animals are broader in range—age, time, and place—than children are. They also can do things in pictures that children cannot. They can be slapstick and still real, rough and still funny, maudlin and still touching.”
Indeed, not all of Rosemary Wells’s ideas come from within the family circle. “I put into my books all of the things I remember,” she says. “I am an accomplished eavesdropper in restaurants, on trains, and at gatherings of any kind. These remembrances are jumbled up and changed, because fiction is always more palatable than truth. Memories become more true as they are honed and whittled into characters and stories.”
Rosemary Wells lives in Connecticut.