This title really says it all. Spinster Goose is Mother Goose’s distant relative who runs a boarding school for children of questionable behavior. Written by Lisa Wheeler and illustrated by Sophie Blackall, this book was released in 2011 by Atheneum and it’s one of the most exquisitely creepy picture books I’ve seen in a long time.
Most of the children at the school are featured with rhymes based on familiar Nursery Rhymes. Imagine that Mary who had a little lamb is also a compulsive lier, while Jack Sprat and his wife work in the lunch room dishing up green goo.
Bean after bean, the kids turn green.
They sweat, and shake and drool.
As stomachs turn, the kiddies learn the motto: life is gruel
I tend to love books that challenge the traditional ideas of what children can handle. Kids can see right through overly sunshiney stories and rainbow illustrations; they deserve books that are more honest and creative. But ironically I am pretty positive that as a child I would not have enjoyed this book. It would have turned my sense of “all is right with the world” on it’s head, with its taxidermied looking children who are devious and, well, twisted. Anyhow, as an adult I love it, and I bet there are kids out there with wicked senses of humor who will too.