Review of The Real Dada Mother Goose, by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Julia Rothman

The Real Dada Mother Goose

A Treasury of Complete Nonsense

by Jon Scieszka
illustrated by Julia Rothman

Candlewick Press, 2022. 72 pages.
Review written February 2, 2023, from a library book.
Starred Review
A 2023 Capitol Choices Selection

This is truly a treasury of complete nonsense, and who better to provide nonsense than Jon Scieszka?

It’s hard to know where to file this on my page. I don’t have a category for “Imaginative Play.”

What Jon Scieszka does here is take six rhymes from the old classic, The Real Mother Goose, and reworks them in every way you can think of.

For example, he’s got “Humpty Dumpty” in Morse Code, and then in Computer Translation Telephone — showing how a computer translated the original into Spanish, then that into Arabic, that into Chinese, that into Latin, and that back into English. The end result is:

Humpty Dumpty sits on the wall.
Humpty Dumpty fell.
All horses are kings, and all men are kings;
I can’t meddle with Humpty.

Other delights include “Jack Be Nimble in Pig Latin and Esperanto, “Old Mother Hubbard” as a comic strip and with other animals, “Hey Diddle, Diddle” as a recipe, a news article, and a knock-knock joke, “Hickory Dickory Dock” with the clock striking all hours, “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” with anagrams, and much, much more.

There are explanations of how to do many of the different variations in the back, along with an explanation of Dadaism.

And the book ends with an invitation:

One, two, buckle my shoe.
Now YOU make these old rhymes new.

Dada Geese writers! Dada Geese friends!
YOU put Humpty together again!

I think I could have had a lot of fun with this book when I was a kid. May it spark imaginations far and wide!

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Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but the views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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