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Mommy Goose: Rhymes from the Mountains, by Mike Norris, carved illustrations by Minnie Adkins; University Press of Kentucky, $19.95, 48 pages, all ages.

Recognized for its distinctive storytelling tradition, Appalachia is home to generations of artists, musicians, and writers. Mommy Goose: Rhymes from the Mountains is a visual and rhythmic celebration of this distinct segment of American culture. Author Mike Norris’ fifty original nursery rhymes capture the bluegrass spirit of this rugged and independent land. The verses are arranged in order of complexity–simple, short rhymes lead to more challenging poems. Still, most independent readers will find the text humorous and engaging–consider this ode to a paunchy, lazy calico cat:

Big and fat.
The calico cat
Slept through his dinner.
Now full of sorrow,
He’ll wait till tomorrow,
When he’s a little thinner.

Accompanying the verses are over 100 carved illustrations by folk artist Minnie Adkins, whose woodwork resides in the permanent collections at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the National Gallery of Art, the American Folk Art Museum, and other institutions. A native of Isonville, Kentucky, Adkins’ bright, whimsical artwork is firmly rooted in the cultural traditions of Appalachia, and are a joy to behold.

An important and entertaining addition to any serious Americana collection.

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