Spinster Goose

Twisted Rhymes for Naughty Children

author:  Lisa Wheeler

illustrator: Sophie Blackall

ISBN-10: 1416925414

ISBN-13: 9781416925415


Some children are simply too naughty for Mother Goose to handle. Luckily her sister Spinster Goose knows just how to deal with these uncouth urchins. Her school is home to some world-class troublemakers: they bite and pinch, they talk back and fight--they eat chalk! But brats beware--this isn't just any school, and Spinster isn't your average goose. Her curious methods will rid these students of their horrendous behaviors…right?


“Delectably satiric nursery rhymes play with naughtiness and punishment. Mother Goose sends disobedient children (some human, some half-animal) to her sister Spinster Goose’s reform school, where “The pinchers get pinched, / and the pokers get poked. / The biters get bit, / and the smokers get smoked.” Crimes range from eating chalk to stealing sweets and cheating. Some consequences arise naturally (gum-chewer’s gum explodes on her face), while others come at Spinster’s strict hand: Baa Baa Black Sheep swears, so Spinster “hires shearers from the north, / hygenists [sic] from the south. / They promptly shear his BLEATING wool, / then wash his BLEATING mouth!” Real violence remains mostly at rumor level as threats—an electric chair and stretching rack are shown but not used. Lard-boiled beans prove that “Life is Gruel”; deliberately filthy Polly Flinders refuses to shower because “this punk is into Grunge.” Badness was never more enjoyable than Wheeler’s wicked rewrites: "Friday's child stole seventeen lunches. / Saturday's child threw seventeen punches. / But the child who got a Sunday detention / did something too naughty for me to mention." Blackall’s watercolor-and-ink illustrations are fascinatingly delicate in line and color as they convey all the funny, delicious ghastliness of necks bending in woe, cheeks paling in nausea and this whole mob of unbiddable, hybrid Struwwelpeter/Gorey kids.”

—Kirkus 2011


This collection of Mother Goose parodies . . .is as elegant as it is, like Mary, “quite contrary”….Blackall’s pallid vignettes balance chilly poise and mordant humor. . . Wheeler adds some intellectual depth to the original nursery rhymes while grossifying them. . .kids with a twisted sense of humor will feel right at home.

—Publisher’s Weekly 2011

. . .Blackall backs up the rhymes with wry, devilish images that surround, infiltrate, and help spark this offbeat collection. Pairing these parodies with a traditional Mother Goose book . . .will help expand listeners’ appreciation of Wheeler’s humor. —School Library Journal 2011

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