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SPINSTER GOOSE by Lisa Wheeler Kirkus Star

SPINSTER GOOSE

Twisted Rhymes for Naughty Children

By Lisa Wheeler (Author) , Sophie Blackall (Illustrator)

Age Range: 8 & up

Pub Date: March 8th, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-4169-2541-5
Publisher: Atheneum

Delectably satiric nursery rhymes play with naughtiness and punishment. Mother Goose sends disobedient children (some human, some half-animal) to her sister Spinster Goose’s reform school, where “The pinchers get pinched, / and the pokers get poked. / The biters get bit, / and the smokers get smoked.” Crimes range from eating chalk to stealing sweets and cheating. Some consequences arise naturally (gum-chewer’s gum explodes on her face), while others come at Spinster’s strict hand: Baa Baa Black Sheep swears, so Spinster “hires shearers from the north, / hygenists [sic] from the south. / They promptly shear his BLEATING wool, / then wash his BLEATING mouth!” Real violence remains mostly at rumor level as threats—an electric chair and stretching rack are shown but not used. Lard-boiled beans prove that “Life is Gruel”; deliberately filthy Polly Flinders refuses to shower because “this punk is into Grunge.” Badness was never more enjoyable than Wheeler’s wicked rewrites: "Friday's child stole seventeen lunches. / Saturday's child threw seventeen punches. / But the child who got a Sunday detention / did something too naughty for me to mention." Blackall’s watercolor-and-ink illustrations are fascinatingly delicate in line and color as they convey all the funny, delicious ghastliness of necks bending in woe, cheeks paling in nausea and this whole mob of unbiddable, hybrid Struwwelpeter/Gorey kids. (Picture book/poetry. 8 & up)