Types of Mother Goose Found in the Sandel Collection
The Sandel Collection has a variety of Mother Goose books showing the lasting popularity, diverse nature, and flexibility of Mother Goose for adaptation. The earliest published version of Mother Goose in the Sandel Collection is, Mother Goose or National Nursery Rhymes Set To Music by J.W. (James William) Elliot in 1870. This particular adaptation is set to a musical accompaniment with printed engravings depicting each rhyme. Elliot was known for collecting nursery rhymes during his lifetime continuing on to develop a variety of musical scores and compositions, as well as editing a variety of scores.
The next book in the collection is Denslow’s Mother Goose written by W.W. (William Walace) Denslow in 1901. Denslow was a popular illustrator who worked with L. Frank Baum on The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, going on to write and illustrate a variety of children’s books and other comic publications. Denslow’s success as an illustrator provided him means to retire and buy an island off of Bermuda and crown himself King Denslow I. Denslow’s version of Mother Goose adheres to the prevailing English versions of Mother Goose that have survived with a majority of the artwork resembling a nostalgia for a classic England. There is some art in the work that do take an American quality such as Native American images that can be seen in the rhyme for “Rock-a-by Baby.”
When Mother Goose travels to America, it takes on a new form with new poems and rhymes for its young American audience. In 1940, The American Mother Goose by Ray Wood was published. Wood traveled around America collecting a variety of popular children’s rhymes, poems, and riddles that have developed in America dating from expansion into the western territories. This book is of particular interest because of how far it deviates from what is considered “canon.” This book reveals an emerging consciousness and identity that is purely American. John A. Lomax who writes the introduction to this book says, “From the competitive spirit aroused by a group of youngsters, without doubt, come the creation of many items of this collection. Of course some of them have been imported with or without change, from the British Empire, but many have the American tang, breathing the smoke and sweep of the border settlements” (ix). An example of what Lomax speaks of would be “Star-light, star-bright” which is a rhyme that has prevailed over years with American youth.
First star I’ve seen tonight;
I wish I may, I wish I might
Get the wish I wish tonight (4).
Mother Goose Victory House comes only a few years after The American Mother Goose in 1943. This book is published in the heart of American troops at war in World War II. While the majority of the poems and stories adhere to the Mother Goose “canon,” the final story of the book “Mother Goose Victory Party,” takes a nationalist tone for America at war. The story gathers all of the characters seen in the earlier pages of the book and gathers them in one place: with Mother Goose who is looking for help to set up a victory party. Mother Goose mentions that America is in a time of war and how every person needs to do their part in order to help the war effort and give encouragement to the troops. This final story allows the child enjoying the nursery rhymes contained within to also understand their life in the wider scope of being an American citizen and developing a sense of nationalism and pride for having troops fighting for freedom abroad.
A few years after World War II, in 1957, Simon and Schuster publishes Mother Goose: A Little Golden Book. This post war version of Mother Goose goes back to the simple poems without any nationalistic tones to direct a meaning or message. The art informs the poetry by going back to a nostalgic, simple, and rustic design to compliment the British poems. The art also informs the time period in which it was published. The 1950s as in an immediate post war era sought to return to something simple, to return to a time before the war where life was considered more innocent. With this idea in mind, the art of Mother Goose has an added quality of being romantic and satisfies the need for nostalgia.
The final book included in this Mother Goose archive is The Glorious Mother Goose by Cooper Edens, published in 1988. Cooper Edens is known for his writings and illustrations of children’s books. Similarly, like Ray Wood, Edens over a number of years researched the Mother Goose rhymes and their popularity, combining them into one volume. However, what make this book interesting is that which each poem contained within, there are multiple versions of artwork to inform the poetry. The artwork is dated from the late 19th century to the early part of the 20th century. The artwork varies in mode from engraving, to watercolor, to full paintings. This book shows the lasting impact that Mother Goose has on not only children but of all people. The art combined with the poetry evokes a sense of fun, simplicity, and nostalgia that bring people comfort from an early age. This provides memories that allow Mother Goose to be passed on to later generations ensuring Mother Goose’s immortality in children’s literature