HARLEQUIN AND MOTHER GOOSE: or The Magic Stick by Ruth Robbins


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By the author and illustrator of The Emperor and the Drummer Boy and the 1961 Caldecott Medal winner Baboushka and the Three Kings. The illustrations are richly colored and distinctively stylized; a combination of straight lines and circles producing a stained glass effect. According to the Author's Note, the story was ""...inspired by a scenario entitled 'Harlequin Mother Goose,' a Christmas Pantomime performed at Covent Garden, England, December 1806,"" which enjoyed a record run of 99 nights. Transferred to a story form, the energetic activity characteristic of English pantomine plays leads to an abruptness in scene shifts and in the arrivals and departures of characters, which is easier to accept on stage than in print. The broad humor of Harlequin's pantomiming doesn't come over at all heartily because it is slowed down so by the detailing of physical action. Harlequin wins his Columbine and outwits Pantaloon with the aid of a Magic Stick given him by Mother Goose, whose characters people the story and lead to the recitation of the rhymes. The presence of the familiar rhymes and the listing of strings of things as well as poetic descriptions of the changing scenery are expert touches in a text that is not entirely successful as a story to read aloud but which does suggest a good guide to early grade classroom productions.

Pub Date: Dec. 10th, 1965
Publisher: Parnassus Press