Ages 16+ | Mother Goth Rhymes (Hermes Press)

Mother Goth Rhymes
Published by: Hermes Press
Written by: Kaz Windness
Illustrated by: Kaz Windness
ISBN: 9781613451731
Ages: 16+


Mother Goth Rhymes is an absolutely brilliant and thrilling new early reader picture book. The premise centers on Windness’ desire to revisit and retell some of our favorite and legendary childhood stories: nursery rhymes, fairy tales, poems, fables, and so much more. Witty poems and fascinating illustrations are on every page.

And I’ll be honest: I am not a big fan of poetry. Until now. Windness has created her own genre of poetry, a pleasing teeter totter that examines contemporary poetic writing alongside eloquent and witty twenty-first century illustrations.

While reading, I thought to myself: “This is like having Tim Burton, Neil Gaiman, and Shel Silverstein in the same room writing and illustrating poetry!” To top that off, Windness dedicates the book to “creepy children everywhere.” Win! Families, educators, and students can all enter this literary playground.

With my first crush for poetry in mind, I give Mother Goth Rhymes two thumbs up. If I had more thumbs they would all be up. In fact, I can totally imagine myself asking Windness if I could commission a poem and illustration that depicts a gothic joker-like-figure with ten thumbs up in the air. If you want to know why that visual popped into my mind pick up a copy of Mother Goth Rhymes.

Language Arts Elements of Story

Plot: Mother Goth Rhymes presents a brand-new style of poetry for the twenty-first century, a style that uses words and visuals relies to create poetically-visual retellings of traditional stories. Gothic in tone, Mother Goth Rhymes contains sixty two poems.

Major Characters: Mother Goth; Gigantic Crows; Fish, Girl with Umbrella;, Old Widow; Widow’s Dead Husband; Baby Zombie; Dead Man; Stabby the Unicorn; Baddy Vladly; Two Vampires; Humpty Dumpty; Jack Spry, Barry; Maritan Man: Witch and Babies; Peter and his Deceased Twin; Jack and Jill and their Grandmother;  Toe and Croc; Mary, Little Beast, and Teacher and Kids; Couple in Car; Little Bo Dead; Little Miss Morgan and Spider; Creepy Crawly Cobweb Ken and Kid; Old Mother Hubbard and Dog; Three Little Kittens; Rainstorm and her Follower; Jack and Beelzebub; My body and Fishies; Little Monster; Grim Reaper and Boy

Major Settings: Riding the Air, Sharks, Wreckage, Old Widow’s Home, Sun and Rain Storm, Baby Zombie Tree with Crows, Graveyard, Pile of Skulls, Vampire Coffin, Inside a Grave About to Burn, Stairs & Skillet for Humpty Dumpty, Jack Spry and his Wife at Dinner, Barry with Batlings, Martian Man’s location, Nursery of Babies, Stage for Peter, Hill top Cemetery where only Jill Returns, Dock with Croc, School, Sinking Sleepy Car, Cliff for Little Bo Dead, At an Organ, Pushing Up Grass, Spider Web, Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard, Three Little Kittens in Snow and at Court, Rainstorm’s Hair, Jack’s Seance, Under the Ocean, Bedroom and Underneath the Bed, Boat

Themes: Nursery Rhyme, Fairy Tales, Childish Dark Humor, Life & Death, Growing Up

Literary Pairings: Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes, Shel Silversteins poetry, Bill Watterson’s Calvin & Hobbes, Neil Gaiman’s Coraline

Lesson Plan Recommendations Using the Common Core Standards

for Early & Middle Grade Readers

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas:


Analyze how visual and multimedia elements contribute to the meaning, tone, or beauty of a text (e.g., graphic novel, multimedia presentation of fiction, folktale, myth, poem).

The number(s) referenced above corresponds to the number used by the Common Core Standards (www.corestandards.com)

Lesson Plan

Because Mother Goth Rhymes is based on contemporary retellings of some of our favorite childhood stories, the first lesson to teach should focus on multimodal literary allusions.

To start, read students a few of the poems out loud and make sure they see the illustrations. Then, pair the poems you choose with some of their ancestral literary roots. Ask students to discuss how the original tellings and the retellings are similar and/or different.

Next, ask students to read Mother Goth Rhymes and identify three of their favorite poems and illustrations. After students select their poems and illustrations from ask them to conduct some research no some of the key words.

Research to identify 3 links to other stories, read original, read Mother Goth’s poem again. Write similarities and differences, and what you enjoyed most from Mother Goth are any of her literary allusions.

Dr. Katie Monnin is the author of eight books about teaching pop culture, comic books, and graphic novels in 21st century classrooms. Since 2010 she has written two monthly reviews and two corresponding lesson plans for her Diamond Bookshelf column: "Katie's Korner: Graphic Novel Reviews for Schools & Libraries." In 2018, Dr. Monnin founded "Why so serious? Productions," a consulting business that creates pedagogical materials for 21st century teachers, librarians, and publishers who want to teach pop culture. She served on the San Diego Comic Con jury in 2013, and she frequently travels the nation and the world to discuss teaching with pop culture in 21st century classrooms.