________________ CM . . . . Volume XIII Number 21 . . . . June 8, 2007


Mother Goose Unplucked: Crazy Comics, Zany Activities, Nutty Facts, & Other Twisted Takes on Childhood Favourites.

Helaine Becker. Illustrated by Claudia Dávila.
Toronto, ON: Maple Tree Press, 2007.
160 pp., pbk. & cl., $12.95 (pbk.), $22.95 (cl.).
ISBN 978-1-897066-84-3 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-897066-83-6 (cl.).

Grades 2-7 / Ages 7-12.

Review by Valerie Nielsen.

***½ /4

Between the covers of Mother Goose Unplucked, a sturdy little potpourri of nursery and nursery and fairy tale spin-offs, the reader will find a truly amazing assortment of games, puzzles, quizzes, creative writing activities, recipes, riddles, jokes, scavenger hunts, tongue twisters, horoscopes - the list goes on and on. The fun starts right at the beginning of the book when readers are informed that "with the help of the folks at the Gnomeplace Like Home Travel Agency you have been booked on an exclusive, all-expense-paid trip to the land of Fairy Tales and Mother Goose." Readers are exhorted to "pack your bags with a sense of humor, and put your tongue in your cheek. Then sit back and enjoy the trip of a lifetime."

     The 160 page book is divided into four sections, each introduced by a page entitled  "Travel Notes" which lists currency, suggested length of visit - always one chapter - and "Don't Miss": features. "Into the Fairy Tale Kingdom," the first section, employs classic fairy tales as springboards for fun and games. In the second section, "Into the Deep Dark Woods," readers meet some weird and wonderful forest dwellers, including Goldilocks and the three Bores and teams of Big Bad Wolves competing against each other to be first to dress as Red Riding Hood's granny. Older readers will enjoy the pages dealing with the history, etymology and mythology surrounding dragons. The third section of Mother Goose Unplucked, titled "Mother Goose Gets Down on the Farm," includes a Mother Goose trivia quiz, visits to the house that Jack built, Wee Willie Winkie's route through the town and a recipe for Pease Porridge Hot. The book concludes with a quirky little Fairy Tale Personality test that matches the reader's moods and traits to a fairy tale character. Three pages at the end of the book include all the answers to the quizzes and contests found in the preceding pages.

     Mother Goose Unplucked is so full of ideas for interactive games and learning activities that any teachers, librarians or parents with a love of or interest in fairytales should be happy to add it to their collection. A minor problem occurs in judging the age-appropriateness of this collection, as, despite the simple reading level throughout, there is a preponderance of puns (many of which will undoubtedly go over young readers' heads) and a fair number of jokes requiring a pretty high level of verbal sophistication and knowledge of fairy tales.

     Claudia Dávila's illustrations are bright, bold and unsubtle, entirely age and content appropriate for this little volume. Each colourful double spread contains one activity or game, making it an easy book for children to enjoy either singly or in pairs. Mother Goose Unplucked will be especially appreciated by those elementary or middle school teachers who include a fairy tale unit in their language arts program.

Highly Recommended.

A retired teacher-librarian, Valerie Nielsen lives in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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ISSN 1201-9364
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