Archive | April 2016

The Music of Rhyme

“Little Boy Blue, Little Boy Blue
Come Blow Your Horn,
The sheep’s in the meadow,
The cow’s in the corn.
Where is the boy

Who looks after the sheep?
He’s under a haycock
Fast asleep.
Will you wake him?
No, not I,
For if I do,
He’s sure to cry.

                                                                                                                   Source: Yahoo image 4.28.16

Sorry for the delay. It’s good to be with you again. Ready to go back to our first memories of stories? Most of us, washed and brushed and in pajamas, were soothed to sleep by mothers and fathers and Mother Goose. And as we go back in time to visit our memory, let’s stay there to hear a bit of history.

The earliest reference to Mother Goose was in 1650 by Jean Loret, a French critic who wrote a monthly periodical. In 1729, Charles Perrault published eight French folk tales including Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella. His collection references “Tales of Mother Goose.” Some historians believe Mother Goose was a composite of several authors, both men and women, who handled down stories to generations. John Newbery’s book, “Mother Goose Melody or Sonnets for the Cradle” published translations of Perrault’s folk takes in 1765, according to the Today I Found Out website.

Here, we listen to rhyme, both whimsical
“Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker’s man,
Bake me a cake as fast as you can;
Pat it and prick it, and mark it with a T,
Put it in the oven for Tommy and me.”

 “Hey, diddle, diddle,
The cat and the fiddle,
The cow jumped over the moon;
The little dog laughed,
To see such sport,
And the dish ran away with the spoon.”

And dark
The Queen of Hearts,
She made some tarts,
All on a summer’s day;

The Knave of Hearts
He stole those tarts
And took them clean away.

The King of Hearts
Called for the tarts,
And beat the knave full sore;

The Knave of Hearts
Brought back the tarts,
And vowed he’d steal no more.”

 “Goosey, goosey gander,
Whither shall I wander?
Upstairs and downstairs
And in my lady’s chamber.

There I met an old man
Who would not say his prayers,
I took him by the left leg
And threw him down the stairs.”
ource: Anthology of Children’s Literature, 1970, Houghton Mifflin Company

And where there is rhyme, there is memory, stored in our minds and hearts.
Mother Goose, created centuries ago by unnamed people, is the symbol of the story teller. Her tiny poems are music to our ears and a child’s first verse.

These famous rhymes are humor and sadness; nonsense and reality; imagination and purpose. They teach and they soothe. Centuries later, new generations of children still sing and say them!

“Star light, star bright
First star I see tonight,
I wish I may I wish I might
Have the wish I wish tonight.”

Sweet dreams.

Where Do We Go from Here?

“He looked at the little maiden and she looked at him; and he felt that he was melting away, but he still managed to keep himself erect shouldering his gun bravely. A door was suddenly opened, the draught caught the little dancer and she fluttered like a sylph, straight to the fire to the soldier, blazed up and was gone! By this time the soldier was reduced to a mere lump, and when the maid took away the ashes next morning she found him, in the shape of a small tin heart.”

—The Steadfast Tin Soldier, Hans Christian Andersen

This blog is my celebration of classic children’s literature. We glanced back at its history, met classic and modern writers who use metaphor and glimpsed at famous and modern stories. We asked why connect? We saw examples of metaphor for children and adults.

So, where do we go from here?

Can we still find metaphor?

Yes! It’s all around us. It will never leave.

The way we learn is by taking an idea and comparing it to our life experience. By metaphor, we understand how to solve problems, face new situations and gain new information on the world around us. It is the human condition.

For the future, we’ll comment on a classic story each week.

Thanks for joining me.

Blog originally posted in 2012 and refreshed for sharing.

Modern Children’s Stories vs. Classic Children’s Literature

“Still round the corner there may wait

A new road or a secret gate,

And though we pass them by today,

Tomorrow we may come this way

And take the hidden paths that run

Towards the Moon or to the Sun.”

—The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien

Those of us who love the classics view the ‘secret gate’ as a cherished world of stories.

I’d like to reflect on Beverly Davis’ post “Fairy Tales as Children’s Stories” in her blog, Beverly’s Treehouse, in which she cites the positive qualities of classic stories.

For the most part, modern children’s stories are set in reality such as Laura Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie or the Nancy Drew detective series. Fairy tales are stories with magic. They provide a window to another world and an escape from everyday life.

Some people worry about the magic –fairy tales do not dwell on truth. Yet children understand that these stories are not real and that’s the point. The story’s worth is not in the magical setting or characters but the lesson that it teaches: that we can see a problem, solve a problem and arrive at a happy ending.

An important lesson in classic stories is confronting fear. Modern literature may overlook the fear of dragons or trolls. Fairly tales take fears seriously and provide ways of facing them. They can serve as an outlet to anxiety. Most importantly, fairy tales give us hope, even if the happy ending is not always realistic. The hope in fairy tales helps solve problems, teaches fortitude, finds happiness and gives readers heroes that they can emulate.

We also see violence in classic stories. Beverly notes that within the context of story, violence can reflect a child’s feelings towards self and others. It is not necessarily a bad thing to show scary characters because it can teach the child to slay the dragon, kill the witch and master his fear.

In both modern and classic stories, there are winners and losers, good and bad. The value of traditional literature is seeing how the main character triumphs in adversity, grows in relationships and becomes something more than what they were when the story began. Traditional and modern stories are compelling to read and re-read because they are inspiring, noble and timeless. At the heart of every good story whether old or new is love.

Next week, we’ll look ahead to where we can go from here.

Blog originally posted in 2012 and refreshed for sharing.