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Friday, October 13, 2017

Grumbles From The Town: Mother Goose Voices with a Twist. Poems by Jane Yolen and Rebecca Kai Dotlich and illustrations by Angela Matteson. Wordsong, HIghlights. 2016. $23.50 ages 5 and up

"Song of the Vegetarian Princess

Sing a song of salad,
a pocket full of beans,
four-and-twenty canteloupes
stashed inside my jeans.

Will I eat some blackbirds
baked in a pie?
No, I'd rather see them all
flying in the sky."

Taking familiar Mother Goose rhymes (which are appended in back matter) and giving them a twist as promised makes for a fun read, especially for those children familiar with the originals. In an author's note before introducing their new poems, Ms. Yolen and Ms. Dotlich explain:

"We've reinvented them in two different voices, playing with points of view. So, we rhymed the old woman who lives in the shoe from the viewpoint of the shoe itself, spun our own webs as the spider tells of meeting Miss Muffet, became the plum as he shouts in bouncing lines his anger at Little Jack Horner, and more."

They chose 14, knowing there were so many more. Perhaps readers would like to try their hand at poetry and point of view, too. There's an idea!

As the old man (and all of the nearby animals and birds) snores while it rains and pours, the dog has a complaint!

"It's raining, it's pouring,
and everyone is snoring.

Despite some cotton
in each ear,
the only sound
that I can hear
is snore-snore-snore
and snore some more
coming straight at me
through the doghouse door.

It's so dang loud,
I cannot think.
I cannot dream
or sleep a wink.
I much prefer
the drip-drop rain.
No wonder, then.
this sad refrain:

It's raining, it's pouring,
and everyone is snoring.
   (Except for me!) "

The old man has a short retort:

Yes, yes, yes, I snore.
Long, loud, goose-gurgling snores.
Usually when it rains.
Especially when it pours,
I snores."

Need I say more?

Just a wee note about the illustrations! Angela Matteson uses acrylics and colored pencils on wood board to bring life to this lively group of reimagined rhymes. There is a skateboard, and a banjo, charming characters, and details sure to attract attention and conversation. Enjoy!

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