Monday, May 1, 2017

Happy Mother Goose Day! (May 1st)

Mother Goose, art for a Fisk Tires ad by Maxfield Parrish, 1919
National Mother Goose Day is observed each year on May 1.  This day honors Mother Goose, the imaginary author of a collection of fairy tales and nursery rhymes we loved as children.  Mother Goose is often illustrated as an elderly country woman in a tall hat and shawl, but she is also sometimes depicted as a goose wearing a bonnet.  (From
Mother Goose Day was founded in 1987 by Gloria T. Delamar in tandem with the publication of her book, Mother Goose; From Nursery to Literature.
In honor of today, we thought we'd share some of the illustrations from a lesser known book by L. Frank Baum, Mother Goose in Prose. Here's the blurb from the original dust jacket:
If ever a writer and an artist were an unbeatable team, it's on these pages. Put that team to work on the most famous characters in the English language and the result can be nothing less than classic. 
Here two giant imaginations take on Little Boy Blue, The Cat and the Fiddle, Old King Cole, Mistress Mary, Jack Horner, The Man in the Moon, Hickory Dickory Dock, Bo-Peep, Tommy Tucker, Humpty Dumpty, The Woman Who Lived in a Shoe, Miss Muffet and others. 
To create Mother Goose in Prose, the man who gave us The Wonderful Wizard of Oz started with the bare bones of the celebrated nursery rhymes and embroidered them as only a master storyteller could. Now Mary Quite Contrary lives in a real house, has a mother and is visited in her garden by a Squire. Humpty Dumpty is far from just a five line verse here and, once read, his will never be a five lines story again. Did you ever wonder how the old woman's house for to resemble a shoe? In case the reader doesn't get the picture, Baum departs from his storytelling to draw it himself. 
This is a charming book, with a warm introduction by Baum, who takes care to trace the vague but fascinating history of the rhymes back to 1650, through the three countries that claim Mother Goose for their own. But "the songs that cluster around her name are what we love." he reminds us. "Many of these nursery rhymes," Baum says, "are complete tales in themselves, telling their story tersely but completely; there are others which are but bare suggestions, leaving the imagination to weave in the details of the story. Perhaps therein may lie part of their charm, but however that may be I have thought the children might like the stories told at a greater length, that they may dwell the longer upon their favorite heroes and heroines. 
"For that reason I have written this book."

You can read the book online HERE.

And from Amazon:
The volume begins with an historical overview written by Baum himself, in which he notes that the first use of the name "Mother Goose" was by the great French author of fantasies, Charles Perrault -- the inventor of Sleeping Beauty, Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella and Puss in Boots. Each tale begins with the nursery rhyme, and then a tale that illustrates the rhyme follows -- told in Baum's charming, natural fashion. Mother Goose in Prose is a delight for children of all ages. The book's last selection features a girl named Dorothy who can talk to animals — an anticipation of the Oz books. When Baum later included this story in his Juvenile Speaker (1910) and The Snuggle Tales (1916–17), he changed the girl's name to Doris, to avoid confusing her with Dorothy Gale. 

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