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Why do you think the dish is running away with the spoon?

Cover of The Real Dada Mother Goose
A review of The Real Dada Mother Goose: A Treasury of Complete Nonsense by Jon Scieszka and illustrated by Julia Rothman

Old Mother Goose,
When she wanted to wander,
Would ride through the air,
On a very fine gander.

New Dada Geese,
When they want to wander,
Play around with old rhymes,
To make them goofy grander.

And so begins The Real Dada Mother Goose, a ridiculously fun collection of six classic nursery rhymes flipped into the Dada world of absurdity and humor. There’s a multiple choice version of "Jack Be Nimble" that includes the option of Jack be fizzle, Jack be slick, Jack jump over the hockey stick. Other rhymes include a “censored” version of "Humpty Dumpty," rhymes in secret codes, written in Esperanto, bad libs (like mad libs but worse), Jabberwocky versions, a recipe, knock knock jokes, anagrams, Haiku, Egyptian hieroglyphs and one of my favorites:  military alphabet.

Twinkle, twinkle, little Sierra Tango Alpha Romeo.
How I wonder what you Alpha Romeo Echo.

You get the idea. After all the fun and rhymes, a notes section provides more information about some of the Dadaist variations, like Morse code and Spoonerism (words or phrases in which letters or syllables get switched, creating new, funny words or phrases). There’s also Mother Goose history and information about Blanche Fisher Wright, the author of The Real Mother Goose, the checkerboard version of Mother Goose that I grew up with. Fisher Wright was born in Manitowoc, WI and lived in Milwaukee for a time. She also wrote a number of other children’s books. Who knew?

And finally, there’s a section explaining what Dada is and when the Dada movement started and why. Taking classic rhymes and turning them upside down for fun and nonsense is just what I’d expect from the author of The Stinky Cheese Man and something I didn’t know I’d been missing from life. I love this book and hope you will, too.

May 25, 2023