Monday, February 18, 2008

Mother Goose and Nursery Rhymes

Mother Goose and Nursery Rhymes
wood engravings by Philip Reed
Atheneum, 1966


Mother Goose books always have a few nursery rhyme gems tucked away within. Short stories with thinly veiled morals and violent themes. In just the first few pages: children are whipped soundly and sent to bed, an old man is thrown down the stairs, a pussy cat is drowned, a mouse is bitten in two, a pig is shot with an arrow and children are asked to remember the Fifth of November.

Gunpowder treason and plot;
I see no reason
Why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.


Guy Fawkes included, this is a great selection of rhymes. Sometimes collections like this include so many ditties that the book ends up being an encyclopedia that you never want to pick up because of the heft. However, this is a sensible collection, not too long and not too short with enough old faves and undiscovered treats to keep everyone happy. Plus the engravings are quite nice. The people all have cherub, pinched faces and the animals are full of personality.

As a side note: I wanted to mention that I picked this copy up at a library sale this weekend and noticed someone going through the collection with a handheld scanning device. No doubt a dealer of some kind looking for a quick resale value. This really pissed me off to no end. Library sales are one of the last places where you can get reasonably priced vintage books for yourself, and to have greedy little sales people picking through and taking out the good stuff is really annoying. Do you really think the library is giving books away for 50 cents apiece so someone can turn around and sell them for $10 on eBay? I mean come on, if you were a book dealer who really and truly loved and knew books, you wouldn't need the damn scanner anyway. Cheater.

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