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The Real Dada Mother Goose Book Review

You’ve heard the Mother Goose nursery rhymes hundreds, if not thousands, of times. You’ve never heard the Mother Goose nursery rhymes like this. Jon Scieszka, the author who brought us the Caldecott Honor book The Stinky Cheese Man, continues his streak of tongue-in-cheek classic tales in what he refers to as “a Treasury of Complete Nonsense.”

The Real Dada Mother Goose Book Review

Dada, as the back matter explains, is an artistic movement devoted to nonsense. Artists created Dada just over one hundred years ago in response to the senseless killing in World War I. Devotees to the movement thought that their nonsense made more sense than the senselessness of the war. This back matter is a must read before reading the story or you may struggle to fully appreciate the fun and humor of the work.

The Story

This compendium of rhymes takes 6 of the Mother Goose nursery rhymes and reworks them in ways that you never would have thought of. Pig Latin, backwards alphabet, definition, anagram, and rebus are just a few of the ways that Scieszka plays with the rhymes. Some are hilarious, others educational (like the Morse code and translations to other languages).

Jon Scieszka author

The Illustrations

The illustrations are just as playful as the rhymes…if they can even be called rhymes with how they are reworked. Julia Rothman, the illustrator, just like Scieszka, takes Mother Goose and turns it on its head. She uses pages from the original and draws on them, mixes them with other media, in true Dada style.


The Real Dada Mother Goose takes the age old nursery rhymes, and provides us with a hilarious nonsensical mix that makes perfect sense. The synergy between the author and illustrator’s individual work, along with the extensive back matter, make this book a fun read for primary grade children and can serve as inspiration for upper elementary art and writing projects. Grades Kindergarten through 5th grade will really enjoy this story the most.

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Hey there! I’m Josh from Picture Book Brain here to share only the best literature for you to use with your students. If you are looking for a specific book, use the search bar below to check my archives. Glad you’re here, and glad to help you!

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