Inventive verse and playful art combine in an origin story of Mother Goose herself.
Frontmatter offers possible backstories about the enigmatic Mother Goose, leading to an introduction of one Elizabeth Foster who lived in Colonial-era Boston and married widower Isaac Goose. Raschka’s poetic text provides a biographical sketch of Elizabeth Foster Goose, within which he thematically arranges well-known Mother Goose rhymes. For example, he introduces Elizabeth and Isaac as they fall in love and marry, accompanying that part of his text with nursery rhymes about courtship and matrimony. The text also explains that between stepchildren and those born to the couple, Elizabeth was Mother Goose to 14 children. Readers must connect the dots to deduce that this real woman may have originated the rhymes now known to generations, and it’s a shame the text fails to explicitly illuminate historical context. His art published posthumously, Radunsky’s gouache-and-pencil illustrations of the Goose family, other people, and anthropomorphic animals have a jovial, sketchy quality befitting the lively cadence of Raschka’s verse and the familiar nursery rhymes. Unfortunately, the depiction of what appears as an all-white world of Goose’s Colonial Boston offers ahistorical exclusivity. Ultimately, it’s a book as playful and cryptic as many a Mother Goose rhyme.
A dainty dish that needed just a bit more proof in the pudding when it comes to historicity. (Picture book. 3-8)