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Mother Goose Rhymes Like Never Before!

The Real Dada Mother Goose: A Treasury of Complete Nonsense written by Jon Scieszka and illustrated by Julia Rothman, published by Candlewick Press.

The origins and meaning of the term dada to describe the artistic movement that preceded surrealism is as obscure as the term may sound. Some people believe it was picked at random with a page flip in the dictionary, others think it refers to the French word for hobbyhorse, others still believe it refers to the first sounds or words that a child makes. Regardless, dada's childlike experimentation and goal of countering the absurdity of bourgeois society is what appealed to the artists, writers, and creators of this early 20th century art movement.

In Jon Scieszka's The Real Dada Mother Goose: A Treasury of Complete Nonsense, modern readers will find a clever twist on Mother Goose rhymes. Nonsense, indeed, in the best sense!

Before the title page, readers are already introduced to the idea of this unique picture book. First, with an original verse:

Old Mother Goose,

When she wanted to wander,

Would ride through the air,

On a very fine gander.

And then readers turn the page to read:

New Dada Geese,

When they want to wander,

Play around with old rhymes,

to make them goofy gander.

And the adventure in found poems, secret codes, rebus, among other forms, begins. A table of contents lists the poems presented and manipulated in numerous ways. The result will surely bring giggles and maybe even some puzzled looks to children and adults (in true dada intention). But no one will be bored!

Backmatter includes thorough notes on all the different techniques used in re-writing the original verse, in addition to histories of Mother Goose and Dada.

Imagine It!

Do you know of a rhyme that was not included in this collection?

Imagine how you could revise it in the style of a Dada collection.

Let one or several of the revision styles the author specifies in the back of the book inspire you re-write the verse you chose. Or...

imagine an entirely different idea, all your own, to make the verse as original as possible.

Draw images to go with your new poems. Do they look childish, absurd, or nonsensical? GOOD!

Imagine how pleased the original dadaists, Picabia, Arp, Ray (to name a few), would be to know that a hundred years after them, people are still questioning, playing, and provoking with language and imagery. ;)

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