Spinster Goose: Twisted Rhymes for Naughty Children (review)
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Reviewed by
Wheeler, Lisa. Spinster Goose: Twisted Rhymes for Naughty Children; illus. by Sophie Blackall. Atheneum, 2011. [44p]. ISBN 978-1-4169-2451-5 $16.99 Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 2-4.

As an introductory poem explains, Mother Goose can only do so much, and she's sent the children whose misbehavior is beyond her control to her schoolmistress sister, Spinster Goose. Twenty-five verses, each based on or alluding to a popular nursery rhyme, then take a Struwwelpeter-esque tour through various brats' egregious misbehavior, from "The Gum-Chewer" ("Chew-chaw, Margery Daw") to "The Tattletale" ("Wee Willie Winkie/ runs through the school"). While some of the poems are stronger than others, there's still plenty of entertainment in the grand old tradition of amusingly cataloging the wicked. Kids will appreciate the familiar underpinnings that make the verses easier to swallow, and they'll enjoy the sly and [End Page 546] bouncy rhymes ("But the child who got a Sunday detention/ did something too naughty for me to mention"). Curly title font, delicately framed illustrative vignettes, and a muted palette emphasizing grays and taupes lend a nineteenth-century air to the art, while Blackall's precise, meticulous, slightly grotesque draftsmanship and fine detailing vibrate amusingly between Victorian and New Millennium. While readers may beg to differ on the seriousness of some of the malfeasance committed, they'll still get a schadenfreude-y thrill out of all this poetic excoriation.

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