Mother Goose is Still “In”, as the Saying Goes, and “Hey Diddle Diddle and Other Mother Goose Rhymes” by Tomie DePaola is a Treat!
I have always been a big advocate for Mother Goose rhymes…both for young readers and readers of ALL ages.
They’re so well known by most people of my age that a “first line” of one of them can easily send a fan into recitation mode.
I’ll give you an example…and I’m really doing this all from sheer memory.
First Line- The North wind doth blow
Okay, here I go:
And we shall have snow,
And what will the Robin do then
He’ll sit in a barn,
and keep himself warm
And hide his head under his wing,
Though I must quarrel with the last line, for I learned it as:
And come out in the Spring,
See, told you! And I can still recite it perfectly with all the pathos and performance it deserves.
My youngest daughter was always very emotional over this Mother Goose rhyme, as she felt extremely touched by the plight of this poor avian.
I usually tried to skip this one when it came to that page in the book, for it was usually illustrated with a shivering sparrow high in the rafters of a barn.
But, in Tomie dePaola’s version of that Mother Goose in “Hey Diddle Diddle and Other Mother Goose Rhymes”, the bird is perched on a barn rafter, but he is looking out a window, expectantly, for Spring, no doubt.
And that’s what I love about Tomie’s collection of Mother Goose.
The opening page is an Index of First Lines in alphabetical order to make finding a rhyme easy peasy.
“Jack and Jill
“Simple Simon met a pieman”
“Old Mother Hubbard”
“Rain, Rain go away,”
“Peter, Peter pumpkin eater,”
“Little Miss Muffet”
“Tom Tom the piper’s son,”
“Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,”
“There was an old woman who lived in a shoe,”
I’m willing to bet that most of you readers out there are filling in the lines, by heart, after each of the “First Lines.”
And Tomie has introduced some that I didn’t know and now love:
The lion and the unicorn
Were fighting for the crown;
The lion beat the unicorn
All around the town.
Some gave them white bread,
And some gave them brown;
Some gave them plum cake
And drummed them out of town.
No fighting here, you animals. But okay, before you leave town, here’s something to eat on the way….is the message.
My very favorite is the next to last in Tomie’s toting up of Mother Goose rhymes and here it is, complete with that nightgowned lad outside the door with a lit lantern in hand.
Wee Willie Winkie runs through the town,
Upstairs and downstairs in his night-gown,
Rapping at the window, crying at the lock,
Are the children all in be, for now it’s eight o’clock?
Tomie has wisely filled an entire day’s activities of kids, animals and characters doing amazing things and closing out the day with:
“Hush-a-bye, baby, on the tree top.”
followed lastly and perfectly by
“Now I lay me down to sleep,”
This National Poetry month, this April, when the Covid-19 pandemic has slowed the pace of life to a baby’s crawl, please pick up Tomie dePaola’s homage to the maternal Mother Goose of rhyming fame, in “Tomie de Paola’s Hey Diddle Diddle and Other Mother Goose Rhymes.”
Though published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons in 1985, this classic still holds you in thrall with its remembered rhymes and wonderful art that matches each one.
Read them to your young readers, and remember and renew acquaintance with those you loved from childhood.