Lizs Book Snuggery

Celebrate the Classic Poetic Picture Books This April with Your Young Readers. Celebrate Berta and Elmer Hader and Their Picture Books!

The Snuggery, since its inception some ten years ago, has tried in small ways to shine a light on the classic picture book and its transformative  ability in narrative and art to capture the elusiveness of the imagination in a child’s mind which is boundless.

Funny how it seems to decrease and dilute as we grow older.

And so, this April, with the onset of National Poetry Month, I decided to shine the Snuggery spotlight on Berta and Elmer Hader and their collective achievements in the world of picture books, and in particular, their 1930 classic, “Picture Book of Mother Goose.”

Together this artistic couple illustrated more than 70 children’s books and of these, half they also wrote.

Perhaps you may be particularly familiar with their 1948 Caldecott Award winning “”Big Snow,” as the most “distinguished picture book for children” as well as the Caldecott Honor Book Award for “Cock-a-doodle-doo” in 1940 and “The Mighty Hunter” in 1940 . 

As a side note, one particular book that they did called “Billy Butter” in 1936 so impressed John Steinbeck that on its strength he asked Elmer Hader to do the cover for “The Grapes of Wrath” (1939). He also did covers for Steinbeck’s “East of Eden” in 1952 and “The Winter of Our Discontent” in 1961.

But it’s April and our celebration here is for poetry and the Hader’s collection and culling of the amazing diversity and style of Mother Goose rhymes AND games.

In the Hader’s “Picture Book of Mother Goose”, it is separated into four groupings.

Here are the old familiar favorites of “Dickory, Dickory Dock”, “Polly Put the Kettle On”,  “Baa, Baa Black Sheep,” “Hot Cross Buns,” “Pat a Cake, Pat a Cake,” “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and others.

2. The second section is a selection of games for children, complete with music, lyrics and instructions as in “London Bridges Falling Down,” “The Farmer in the Dell,” “Ring Around a Rosy,” “The Muffin Man and others to delight the youngest of readers who perhaps need a bit of a nudge away from technology that they may have been immersed in up to their eyeballs in the lengthy throes of the pandemic and find instead some healthy alternative outdoor play.

 3. Boys and Girls from Mother Goose, young readers will meet “Georgie Porgie,” “Little Bo-Peep,” “Tom Tom the Piper’s Son,” “Jack and Jill,” and my all time favorite, “Wee Willie Winkie; he of the nightgown clad night watchman checking to see that all are abed. There are other memorable boys and girls of Mother Goose fame for your young readers to meet and greet and recite.

   4. The final section is a collection of lullabys complete with lyrics and music. Parents will remember these favorites from their own childhood and want to share them with young readers. Included are “Rock-a- Bye Baby,”  and “Baby Bunting,” along  soothing ones sure to bring up some long for gotten memories.

The art runs between pen and ink done to perfection and sumptuous color evocative of childhood in its innocence and wonder.

Story-rhymes are ageless and in this time fraught with a lack of predictability, what could be more reassuring than the Mother Goose cadences of our youth shared with a new generation that needs them perhaps more than we did.

Huzzah to Berta and Elmer Hader…and to the founder of the feast; Mother Goose!

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