Before I was a teacher and before I was a mother I was a child and a reader and a lover of rhyme. The language of mother goose delights me to this day and I have a collection of illustrated volumes to prove it! I have been thinking a lot about the beginning of this poetic fascination as we are moving deeper into poetry month…
My favourite at the moment is illustrated by Japanese American artist Gyo Fujikawa. I have an aging 1977 copy of this 1968 book, but I have seen it reprinted recently and have joyfully purchased it to give to friends expecting their own first little ones – the rhyme and rhythm of mother goose is meant to be read, repeated and shared!
The rhymes and stories from the mother goose tradition are a staple of my childhood memory and have been featured in my life as a teacher too. Something about the simple logic and understandable consequences, dressed up with descriptive language and genuine feeling, connected to my understanding of life as a child. Many of the rhymes are worth repeating even now…
Sometimes the tiniest suggestion will have me reaching for a book of rhymes and a cozy place to curl up for a half hour or so…
Two of my favourites have stood the test of time. First, Old King Cole, partly because he smoked a pipe, (how exotic!), but also because he had fiddlers. Fiddlers! Who wouldn’t call for them? Second, Sing a Song of Sixpence – I always imagined being the queen and eating bread and honey… The dreams of childhood know no bounds!
But my absolute favourite illustration is coincidentally for my very favourite rhyme:
(Not just because it’s a rhyme about a shoe…). The cross section artwork is one of my favourites always. As a child I loved to see inside something that was usually a mystery… (Master of that form: Richard Scarry – a topic for another day…)
Mother Goose (for me and possibly for many) was the beginning of a poetic understanding of language … The childlike alphabet of poetry in an everyday application – a world of possibility in verse.
In marble halls as white as milk,
Lined with skin as soft as silk,
Within a fountain crystal-clear,
A golden apple doth appear.
No doors there are to this stronghold,
Yet thieves break in and steal the gold.