Saturday, November 14, 2009

Marguerite de Angeli’s Book of Nursery and Mother Goose Rhymes – Among the Best

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Marguerite de Angeli, (1889-1987) if not a Renaissance women, she was certainly multi-talented. Marguerite de Angeli’s Book of Nursery and Mother Goose Rhymes is considered one of the finest Mother Goose illustrations.

This children’s book author and illustrator started her professional career as a concert contralto. She gave that up to start a family – she had 6 children – and learned illustration from Maurice Bower when she was in her 30s. It seems book illustration is a healthy path as she lived to the age of 98.

As an author, she was a bit of a maverick, tackling challenging subjects in the ‘40s, such as racial prejudice. She often wrote of poor people, minorities and others who were disenfranchised. She won many awards including a Newberry Award for The Door in the Wall, a Newberry Honor for Black Fox of Lorner and two Caldecott Honors for her illustrations of Yonie Wondernose and the Book of Nursery and Mother Goose Rhymes in 1957.

The Book of Nursery and Mother Goose Rhymes is an especially lovely find for the genre. The large pages allow the images, both color and black and white to dance through the pages. The delicate black and white drawings are every bit as delightful as the color illustrations. I love her Little Bo Peep – so much detail.

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Throughout the book, the images are soft and warm, portraying perfectly the soft, still unformed young child. In her biography, she tells how she used her family members as models. She captures the mood of the rhymes with humour and sensitivity. It will bring a smile to your face to look at Mary Had a Little Lamb. The children in the classroom are so delighted to have a lamb at school!

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  1. We grew up reading Marguerite de Angeli's Book of Mother Goose and Nursery Rhymes... it's a beautiful book and now that I'm having a baby I started searching for that in my childhood home. Sadly, we can't find it! I am so sad, what a loss. I found out that it is now worth $250, I want my baby to have this book.

    1. anna- amazon has many used copies available for $3 and up