J. Otto Seibold presents

Other Goose

J. Otto Seibold's Other Goose
Re-Nurseried and Re-Rhymed Children's Classics

Children's book review by Steve Barancik

Ages 3-10

This ain't your mother's Mother Goose!

J. Otto Seibold brings some much needed attitude to the world of nursery rhymes.

There's his goose on the cover, with a can of spray paint and some bling reading "O.G.", giving a raucous makeover to old Ma Goose's wonderful - but weathered - rhymes.

As Seibold tells us, this is Mother Goose "re-nurseried, re-rhymed, re-mothered, and re-goosed." A quick trip through the Table of Contents will give you a good idea where he's going with this:

  • Of Eggs and Accidents: The Humpty Trilogy
  • Jack and Jill (and Bill)
  • Little Boy Blue, Come Blow Your Tuba
  • Little Asleep Bo Peep
  • Blah Blah Black Sheep
  • Don't Sing a Song of Sixpence
  • It's Raining, It's Boring

Each of Other Goose's rhymes harkens back to the original, but with a fresh, absurdist take. And since Seibold is an artist (perhaps first and foremost), what the rhymes really do is allow Seibold to cut loose on the canvas.

Well, not canvas actually. J. Otto, who claims to have been the first artist "to draw children's books on a computer" (is this necessarily a good thing?), does the same thing with this book, though with the addition of actual spray-painted backgrounds.

The art is in-your-face colorful and please-the-kids playful, with plenty of details above and beyond what's stated in the short rhymes. You'll see Jack B. Nimble jumping over that candlestick as he ages from boyhood to old man-dom and his fan base (he's a celebrity, don't you know) ebbs and flows.

Now do know that unlike Mother Goose, Other Goose hasn't had her rhyme and meter honed into perfection by generations of re-tellers. For adults, the ditties can range from delightful...

Jack Splat paints abstract.
His wife paints country scenes.
Together they fill the canvas up
and live the life serene.

to "didn't you have an editor?"...

Humpty Dumpty wasn't that tall.
Humpty Dumpty went to the mall.
He searched all the shelves
again and again
until Humpty found
a true bargain.

Yes, parent readers will be expected to figure out some way to rhyme again with bargain. Of course, it's easy to get away with such eardrum offenses when your child's attention is diverted by a shoe store administered by mice selling platform shoes to an an egg with a Napoleon Complex.

(And do be assured that this is the worst rhyme in the book. Oddly, it's the one that Seibold starts with. How many sales do you think that cost him?)

All in all, the book is a great fit for an era when fractured fairy tales are often more popular than the originals themselves.

J. Otto Seibold's Other Goose is the perfect book for multi-age reading. Your young ones will enjoy the simple bite-sized rhymes, while kids too old for that "baby stuff" will delight in the subversive take on some old classics.

Read more of Steve's reviews.

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