Mother Goose: Numbers on the Loose
by Leo and Diane Dillon
Mother Goose rhymes are a time-proven nursery favorite, and youngsters’ abundant giggles and exuberant chorus of the chime-in refrain offer some clues to their continued success. Here Caldecott Award Medalists Leo and Diane Dillon make visual logic from often nonsensical text with a parade of animals, humans, a masked mixture of each, and animated inanimate objects (clocks, numbers, letters) that march across the delightful pages, as if they are performing a play. Children will recognize some of the rhymes, such as “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep,” “1 potato, 2 potato,” and “One, two, buckle my shoe,” and be introduced to others, such as the opening “1, 2, 3,/ The bumblebee,/ the rooster crows/ And away he goes.” For this rhyme, bumblebees and the rooster lead the way, followed by the numerals 1, 2, and 3 strutting in the rear, hand in hand, leading youngest book lovers into the pages. The black sheep who doles out three bags of wool has an overlarge long-eared head, and huddles under a comforter from which human legs and hands appear. These are the kinds of details that children will notice at different times over repeated readings. Many of the spreads seem almost cinematic in the way the drama unfolds. For “Sing a song of sixpence,” the 4-and-20 blackbirds line up to enter the pie on the left-hand page, then burst into song on the right. Because the king, the pie maker, the maid and even the cat wear long pointy noses on elastic bands, there’s no danger to “the maid… in the garden” when one of the blackbirds “snap[s] off her nose.” A large dose of whimsy, a charming array of chicks, mice, bunnies and sheep, a bright and cheery palette, and subtly repetitive shapes contribute to an irresistible collection of Mother Goose rhymes.