In an introduction, Iona Opie explains the sources of the 60 or so rhymes here--with origins as diverse as early children's books, obscure folklore, children overheard at play, and letters from people who hoped the Opies would preserve treasured family chants. The present assortment is issued in aid of presenting the Opies' own collection of historic children's literature to the Bodleian Library in Oxford; the 62 artists--an almost comprehensive array of the best British illustrators, plus a few others (Sendak has done the jacket)--have donated their work and executed it with splendid enthusiasm; each has done a double-spread, with one or more rhymes. The rhymes themselves, mostly unfamiliar or variants on the familiar, are uniformly beguiling--as if someone had uncovered another collection of Mother Goose that had been somehow overlooked, which is close to the case. In true Mother Goose style, they range from comic to lyrical, and are blessed with lusty onomatopoeia and rhythms. Opie includes many notes as to possible origins and uses (e.g., of a song from Robert Graves' childhood she says, ""maybe [Graves]. . . gave the refrain its special magic--one never knows, with poets""). Splendid fare for the home or library. Index; list of illustrators.