OLD MOTHER HUBBARD: A Nursery Rhyme by David A.--Adapt & Illus. Johnson


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Although fine lines and a low contrast palette give Johnson's paintings a faded, smudgy look, he effectively captures the classic nursery rhyme's flavor, decking the matronly Mother Hubbard out in sweeping 19th-century gowns that are ruffled, fur-trimmed and elaborately accessorized, then dispatching her to a series of elegantly appointed shops and stalls for goods to lavish on her pampered canine. Johnson drops or rewrites several of the standard version's verses, and adds two of his own that permanently finish off said dog. The illustrations are skillfully rendered, but his interpretations are so free that young readers will search in vain for details such as the tripe, the coat, the linen, the hose, and even the bare cupboard that sparks Mother Hubbard's chain of errands; the visual humor, next to James Marshall's sly, silly take in Old Mother Hubbard and Her Wonderful Dog (1991), is decidedly mild. Notwithstanding Johnson's strong stylistic ties to illustrators such as Randolph Caldecott and E. Boyd Smith, adults are the likeliest audience for this volume.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1998
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: McElderry