Of the many reasons to still love ol’ Mother Goose, a kidlit historian just had to pick “irresistible rhymes with nothing to sell” in his forward to this book. How ironic. Has he seen Engelbreit’s website? She’s a one-woman kitsch factory, churning out everything from calendars to candles, teapots to t-shirts in a style that can only be described as faux-vintage cutesy. No doubt this collection will provide fodder for a score of licensed goodies to fill stockings and Engelbreit’s coffers for years to come.
That said, this is one heckuva collection.
Somewhere in either an end note or the massive press packet I recall reading that Engelbreit created each illustration from a single sketch in colored pencil and markers. She chose the verses herself too, going for those she could visualize the best such as Miss Muffet and that amorous spider, or the not-so-wise men of Gotham, setting out colorfully in their doomed bowl.
The drawings, with their multi-ethnic children and cheerfully anthropomorphic animals, never fail to charm and even clarify some of the more obscure verses. And there’s so much detail that kids will discover something new with each reading.
Me, I admire the way she renders textiles and patterns, from the layers of clothes to the grains on wooden boards, even wallpaper and, yes, teapot designs. Yikes. Her eye misses nothing, and doesn’t surrender a single chance to add a distinctive swirl or bold stripe, however tiny.
And, well, okay, her Miss Muffett illustration is now my computer wallpaper. But don’t expect me to buy the teapot.