Four and Twenty Blackbirds Nursery Rhymes of Yesterday

Four and Twenty Blackbirds Nursery Rhymes of Yesterday Recalled for Children of Today Very interesting book and the nursery rhymes get uite gruesome at times My favorite was And he bit off his head and sucked his blood and ate him all up and then lay down to see what Hooty would do when he came back I enjoyed Rufflecumtuffle a lot and it is a very interesting study of how many of these nursery rhymes have evolved over the years Many of the rhymes in this book exist today in very different forms and are familiar but with modifications The artwork was fun but nothing special 1938 Caldecott HonorFavorite illustration The sweet puppy dog with glasses reading the ABC book in the nursery rhyme called Come HitherFavorite nursery rhyme Most were unfamiliar to me but I liked Dame Trot and Her Comical CatKid appeal today I think it will really depend on the child Many of these nursery rhymes are dark and morbid as was the case with many traditional nursery rhymes The language can be a bit awkward for modern readers but my 7 year old loved it especially for the word play The illustrations are by Robert Lawson of Ferdinand fame so the stroke will seem familiar Video Review here This is a very nice little collection with Helen Dean Fish's special attention given to songs not usually featured in the Mother Goose collections Only a few of the shorter verses are included and uite obscure The longer items are most often complete multi verse songs A good number of these have obviously been cleaned up for modern use with hints of older darker themes hiding in the background But for some of them the old themes are strong and rich like black coffee My favorite in the bunch is The Robber Kitten where although the Kitten does reform in the end the entire bulk of the verse is spent in the imagined life of a vile highwayman This is the same kind of moralization as in Peter Rabbit where the sudden moralistic ending does little because so much time throughout the entire text has been spent in disobedience and difficulty Fish has been careful to make notes and acknowledgments for her sources for each song This scholarship predates Iona Peter Opie's dictionary and follows strongly in the tradition of Alice B Gomme's Children's Singing Games So now I have two favorite nursery rhyme Caldecotts this one has a greater proportion of rhymes that I'm not familiar with Compiler Helen Fish's forward explains the why and how of gathering the rhymes and Lawson's illustrations are magical and amusing with the blackbirds fluttering from page to page throughout the book This could well be a book readers to young listeners will preview and trim The table of contents illustrated with one small image from the rhyme it goes with consists of titles with some brief background or the source many of these go back into the 1800s or were attributed to a line of grandmothers Some of these are pretty grim or morbid which makes their light or amusing feel peculiar like the ending verse of Cluck CluckThe ducklings so easily swam all aboutPeep peepThe chickens said Surely 'tis easy to floatPeep peepSo in they all went but also the soon foundThat chicks are not ducks for the brood were all drownedPeep peep peep peep peep peepSheesh Some feel familiar like Merry Green Fields of England shares pieces and the rhythm of the American Old MacDonald Had a Farm There isn't one rhyme that stands as typical of them all but The Ragman is one I'd never heardThere was a ragman and a madmanDwelt together in a barnAnd a peddler and a fiddlerStole away the ragman's hornBut the ragman made the madmanGive the peddler such a bangthat the peddler made the fiddlerGive him back his horn againOld Mother Tabbyskins ends with the following verseI will tell the moral without any fussThose who lead the young astray always suffer thusVery nice very nice let our conduct beFor all doctors are not mice; some are dogs you seeMusic for some of the rhymes is included as an appendix Even if you don't sing them this compilation needs to be read out loud to feel the rhyming of odd words or the unexpected juxtaposition of words Funny how Helen Dean Fish had two Caldecott winners in the inaugural year Honor and Medal in which she simply collected biblical verse and nursery rhymes without any original text It seems like she was simply riding on the coattails of superior illustrators work and taking credit for itI surely was not expecting to enjoy this book half as much as I did What a delight First and foremost the black white and green illustrations are absolutely fantastic Truly superb in their detail and color scheme the pictures are some of the finest I have seen in any Caldecott awarded book I like also the fact that these old nursery rhymes have not been sanitized by the Helen Dean Fisch They retain all their macabre gruesomeness that makes them so fun For instance a fox has just eaten a poor little baby owl and we see the remains lying on the ground namely a claw and feathers Also in another story a bandit kitten shoots the head of a rooster off and the accompanying illustration which is my favorite in the book is something that would not been seen in a modern book for childrenWhile the illustrations are my favorite part of the book the rhymes themselves are fun and in most cases new to me although most are several hundred years old In the forward the author describes one rhyme written in 1855 as not so old In retrospect one thing lacking that I would have appreciated although children probably would not is a bit of historical context to each rhymeMy favorite illustration The Robber Kitten shoots the RoosterMy favorite rhyme The Tragic Tale of Hooty the OwlOne of the joys of reading is discovering new things one was not aware of before Here I have discovered two things I had not been familiar with before I have found some fun antiue rhymes that are fun and deserve to be remembered Also I had not been aware of the talent of Robert Lawson before seeing his pictures here I will surely look forward to seeing in other books They are simply splendid I was pleasantly surprised This book is not exactly what it looks like It's not about 4 20 blackbirds or anything else Mother Goose Some are older than that if you can imagine The idea behind this book was to put together a collection of lesser known under appreciated tales The author searched and dug through many ancient tomes as well as interviewed various American families from different backgrounds whose traditions included telling these tales to their children at bedtime usually and through song mostly This book is consider like a pie with each tale 4 20 of them represented as a black bird Keep in mind this book was written almost a century agoThe meaning behind most of these blackbirds were easy to grasp and cleverly told But as per most ancient stories they would need to be modernized to keep from offending the currently weak unimaginative and overly sensitive American population Some tales are slightly violent andor misogynistic But show me a collection of old stories tales myths fables or legends that isn'tI do however recommend this book to anyone who like me enjoys reading old stories from cultures around the country as in this book or from cultures around the world I've been trying to get a hold of this book for awhile as it was the last book from 1938 a Caldecott Honor that I needed It is a collection of nursery rhymes which are explained in the table of contents and the introduction by the compiler Helen Dean Fish Most of the rhymes are put to song and the melodies are listed in the back of the book I feel like the rhymes are either too morbid random or violent but maybe that was the norm in the 18th and 19th centuries when these rhymes were collected andor written Two of the most violent were The Robber Kitten and The Tragic Tale of Hooty the Owl neither of which I had heard of before Some of the most random ones were Old Crummles which I enjoyed and Joe Dobson which I didn't much like Overall it was an interesting collection of old and mostly new nursery rhymes illustrated by the fabulous Robert Lawson Recommended for ages 4 7 2 12 stars An influential early twentieth century children's book editor Helen Dean Fish was the driving force behind the publication of the picture book Animals of the Bible A Picture Book which won its illustrator Dorothy P Lathrop the very first Caldecott Medal back in 1938 That same year another of Fish's projects this collection of twenty four nursery rhymes illustrated by Robert Lawson became the very first Caldecott Honor Book Here in Four and Twenty Blackbirds we have some well known selections from Frog Went A Courting to The Little Red Hen but the majority of rhymes included are obscure hunted down by Fish from American contributors although their origins are clearly European and often recorded here according to the foreword for the very first time Accompanying the rhymes are Lawson's engraving style artwork done in black and white with green accentsAn engaging work particularly for those with an interest in nursery rhymes and children's poetry this collection contained a number of songs and poems previously unknown to me although their themes were often familiar Joe Dobson for instance in which a farmer and his wife in the days of Robin Hood switch tasks with the farmer keeping house and his dame tending to the fields put me strongly in mind of the Norwegian folktale concerning The Man Who Kept House I haven't done a great deal of reading in this area The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes sits on my shelf as I type this just waiting to be picked up so I couldn't say if these selections are any grisly than their literary descendents but they certainly are uite gruesome in parts The scene in The Tragic Tale of Hooty the Owl in which the fox has eaten his strigine adversary's offspring is uite bloody I confess to a certain sadness that the foxes here are all depicted as villains Ah well The artwork is appealing although I wouldn't classify it was outstanding It reminded me of the illustrations I've seen in some vintage Aesop collectionsAll in all an interesting work one I would recommend to readers with a taste for older children's nursery rhymes particularly ones not as freuently heard today as well as to fans of Robert Lawson A collection of nursery rhymes including Little Dame Crump Merry Green Fields of England The Old Gray Goose The Robber Kitten The Ragman Joe Dobson Poor Lady Dumpling Old Mother Tabbyskins The Hungry Fox Frog Went A Courting The Keys of Heaven Dame Trot and Her Comical Cat The Old Crow Come Hither Little Puppy Dog Old Crummles Jim Finley's Pig We Are All Nodding The Tragic Tale of Hooty the Owl The Two Foxes The Little Red Hen Mr Bourne and His Wife The Bumble Bug Cluck Cluck Rufflecumtuffle

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