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*Mother Goose's Pajama Party* by Danna Smith, illustrated by Virginia Allyn
Mother Goose's Pajama Party
by Danna Smith, illustrated by Virginia Allyn
Ages 3-7 40 pages Doubleday October 2015 Hardcover    

It’s half past eight, and the nursery rhyme characters are at Mother Goose’s country house for a sleepover. The rhyming invitation is spelled out in the stars, and the message is passed on through the cow from "Hey Diddle Diddle".

After word spreads (also in rhyme), a parade of animals and children walk to Mother Goose’s house with their snacks and pajamas. Jack Be Nimble, a white rabbit, leads the way with the light from his candlestick. A few uninvited guests show up, too, like the Three Blind Mice and the Gingerbread Man (who almost gets eaten).

Once at the slumber party, Mother Goose and her friends put on their pajamas and eat Jack-a-Dandy’s cake and sugar candy while listening to Mother Goose’s famous book of bedtime stories. At the end of Smith’s (Two at the Zoo) latest picture book, the words for fifteen nursery rhymes are listed. They are illustrated with the characters from the story. They are a mix of familiar (Twinkle Twinkle, Little Bo-Peep, Little Miss Muffet) and unfamiliar rhymes (Betty Blue, Georgie Porgie, There Was a Crooked Man).

Some nursery rhymes referenced in the book are not included in the back of the book. For example, Mother Goose’s gander is a regular in the story, but their nursey rhyme is not included. But this omission and others (i.e. Three Blind Mice and The Owl and the Pussy Cat) could spark an interest in learning other nursery rhymes.

The characters look unique. The cow that jumped over the moon is dressed in a white fairy costume. The Dish and the Spoon wear checkered hats and scarves, and John (from Diddle Diddle Dumpling) lives in a lighthouse. This setting allows the reader to see The Owl and the Pussycat sailing on their pea-green boat in the water. Jack from Jack-Dandy is a pig who bakes, and Little Bo-Peep has oversized glasses and curly hair.

The digital illustrations are bursting with cheerful colours. Allyn has created a place the reader will enjoy visiting time and again because the setting feels and looks magical--perfect for a book about nursery rhymes.

I enjoyed this book a lot because I noticed something new each time I read it. It wasn’t until my third time going through the book that I noticed a blackbird baked in a pie and that all the people and animals stay in character throughout the story. Every child should have a variety of nursery rhyme books in their library, and I wouldn’t hesitate to include this one.

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  Tanya Boudreau/2016 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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