In which Annie (high school teacher, mother of two young girls and a younger boy) and her aunt Deborah (children's bookseller, mother of two young women in their 20s) discuss children's books and come up with annotated lists.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Back to the schoolyard

Dear Annie,

I can just see Eleanor absorbed in the catalog of the Thorne Rooms.  And what excellent timing on reading the book, just as you were visiting the Illinois grandparents.

Up here in Maine, I've been browsing our kids' book collection and came up with a wonderful one.   I think you were looking at it when you came to visit Child's Play:

I Saw Esau: The Schoolchild's Pocket Book
, edited by Iona and Peter Opie with spectacular illustrations by good old Maurice Sendak.  We've talked about Opie collections of nursery rhymes before, but this one is more chants than rhymes, suitable for schoolyard recitation, like "sticks and stones..." or "rain rain go away...."  But those are just the beginning!

The Opies put the 174 rhymes into wonderful categories --
-- to name just a few.

Here's one from "Reality":

Under "Guile - Malicious":
Adam and Eve and Pinch-Me
Went down to the river to bathe;
Adam and Eve were drowned,
Who do you think was saved?
An interactive rhyme, that one.  Under "Guile - Innocent," with the note "punctuation is important":
Charles the First walked and talked
Half an hour after his head was cut off
Sendak illustrates with a very elegant headless gentleman.  Then there are several rhymes suitable for writing in one's own book, under "Book Protection":
This book is one thing,
My fist is another;
Steal not the one
For fear of the other.
"Mock Scholastic" has a sub-category, "Loony Latin" (best when read aloud):
Brutus adsum jam forte,
Caesar aderat. 
Brutus sic in omnibus,
Caesar sic inat.
The illustration includes two miserable-looking guys in togas and laurel wreaths, one with his face buried in a hat.

One can tell that everything about this book is fun: the collecting of the rhymes, Sendak's wacky illustrations, the reading aloud.

Something to put a little zip into back-to-school.



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