Children's Literature

Instructor: Chi-Fen Emily Chen, Ph.D. 陳其芬

Department of English, National Kaohsiung First University of Science and Technology, Taiwan


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Poetry for Children

 Please read Chapter 8 and Chapter 6: Mother Goose Books from Russell, D. L. (2009). Literature for children: a short introduction.

Mother Goose Rhymes

Part A.  Historical Perspective

Part B.  Characteristics of Mother Goose Rhymes

Part C.  Mother Goose Rhymes and Child Development

Part D.  Illustrators of Mother Goose Rhymes

Part E.  Learning Activity

 

Part A.  Historical Perspective

Original Mother Goose books share the characteristics of two types of literature: folktales and rhymes.

1)  Folktales

1697 - Charles Perrault’s "Tales of Mother Goose" ("Contes de ma mθre l'Oye") or called "Histories and Tales of Long Ago, with Morals" was published in France. This book contained none of the rhymes associated with Mother Goose, but a collection of eight famous folk tales, including "The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood ", "Little Red Riding Hood" , “Blue Beard”, “The Master Cat; or, Puss in Boots”, “The Fairies”, “and "Cinderella; or, The Little Glass Slipper”, “Ricky of the Tuft”, and “Little Thumb”.

1729 - Perrault's tales were translated into English by Robert Samber. The words on the frontispiece were "Mother Goose's Tales".

2)  Nursery Rhymes

1744 - The earliest known collection of nursery rhymes called "Tommy Thumb's Song Book" was published in London by Mary Cooper

1765 - The single most important promoter of the designation of Mother Goose as writer of children's rhymes was John Newbery (1713-1767). He adopted this name for a collection of mostly traditional rhymes: "Mother Goose's Melody" or called "Sonnets for the Cradle." The date for publication of this important edition is agreed by scholars to be about 1765 (1760-1766). It was a little volume, described as a compilation of traditional English nonsense songs and rhymes. It contained 52 rhymes each with its own black and white illustration.

 

1786 - Isaiah Thomas published the first authorized American edition of "Mother Goose's Melody".

 

3)  The Term "Mother Goose"

 

"Mother Goose" was associated with a mythical teller of nursery rhymes for young children. No one is sure where Perrault found this name. It may be given to a woman who, in early times, kept the village geese and who was the traditional community storyteller.

 

In 1860, a claim was made that the originator of the tales was Elizabeth Goose, great-grandmother of publisher Isaiah Thomas's wife. Scholars have searched fruitlessly for the supposed "ghost volume" which simply does not appear to exist.

 

* Find more historical information about Mother Goose in Just Who Was Mother Goose and Mother Goose Origins.

 

Part B.  Characteristics of Mother Goose Rhymes

 

1)  Sources:

Mother Goose rhymes are derived from war songs, romantic lyrics, proverbs, riddles, political jingles and lampoons, and street cries (the early counterparts of today’s television commercials). Few of these rhymes were initially intended for children.

 

2)  Protagonists:

  • The heroes of Mother Goose rhymes typically come from the lower walks of life.

Examples: “Old Mother Hubbard”, “Simple Simon”, “Solomon Grundy” and “Tom Tom the Piper’s Son”.

  • Those that include kings and queens are often comical and irreverent.

Examples: “Sing a Song of Six Pence”, “Old King Cole” and “The Queen of Hearts (1, 2

 

3)  Violence or Fun?

 

Mother Goose rhymes are often criticized for their share of violence.

Examples: “Rock a Bye Baby” , “Three Blind Mice” , “There was an Old Woman who Lived in the Shoe”, and “Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater”.

 

However, the violence in nursery rhymes is not sensationalized. There are no terrifying elements and the context of the violence is not only fictional but absurd.

It can be argued that this verbal expression of aggressive behavior may help children to vent natural hostilities and pent-up anxieties.

 

In fact, it is fun to read Mother Goose rhymes. Their delightful nonsense and eccentric characters remain with us long beyond childhood.

 

Part C.  Mother Goose Rhymes and Child Development

 

1)  Cognitive Development

  • Learning Numbers and Counting

Examples: “One, Two, Buckle My Shoe” , “One, Two, Three, Four, Five/Once I caught a fish alive”, “Ten Little Monkeys”, “Ten Green Bottles” and “As I was going to St. Ives Rhyme”.

  • Learning Alphabet  

Examples: “Alphabet Rhyme”, “A Picture Alphabet Rhyme”, and “The Alphabet in Rhyme and Song”.

  • Developing Reading Skills (including word-recognition skills, vocabulary and structural knowledge, and content knowledge)

  • Developing a Sense of Humor (appreciation of nonsense)

2)  Aesthetic Development

  • Nurturing a Love of Sounds and Rhythms

Examples: “Hickory Dickory Dock”, “Humpty Dumpty” , “Diddle Diddle Dumpling, My Son John”, and “Hey diddle diddle, the cat and the fiddle” For tongue twisters, see examples: “How Much Wood Would a Woodchuck Chuck?”, “Peter Piper”, and “Betty Botter”.

  • Developing Sensitivity to Pattern

  • The idea of pattern forms the basis of much art, for pattern results in order and beauty.

**Listen to rhymes at Educational Activities Inc.

 

3)  Social and Physical Development

  • Many nursery rhymes are based on cooperative play. They require physical coordination and social interaction.

Examples: “Pat-a-Cake, Pat-a-Cake”   (a clapping rhyme), “Bingo” (a clapping rhyme), and “London Bridge is Falling Down” (an action rhyme).

 

** See more “Chants, Clapping Games, and Jump Rope Rhymes”.

 

Part D.   Illustrators of Mother Goose Rhymes

  • Alexander Anderson:  

He designed and wood engraved the book “Illustrations of Mother Gooses Melodies” published by Evert Duyckinck and Charles Moreau in 1873. See “There was an old woman, she liv'd in a shoe”, “Jacky, come give me your fiddle” and “Two Blind Men”.

  • Walter Crane:

Between 1867 and 1876, Crane produced over thirty so-called "toy books". He took these books so seriously that he worked over every page, including the typography, so that it came out a well-composed whole. His "Baby’s Opera"  and "Baby's Bouquet" (1877) were a series of English nursery songs with words, music, and pictures.

  • Randolph Caldecott:

Around 1878 he began to work on the picture storybooks. He transformed the world of children's books in the Victorian era. His illustrated Mother Goose rhymes in paper-covered book form are among his loveliest and most original creations.

  1. He is often described as the father of the modern picture book, being the first to really explore and experiment with the relationship between text and image. Before Caldecott, illustration generally duplicated the story conveyed by the words, but the two became fused together, making complete sense only when viewed as a whole.

  2. His art is characterized by an economy of line and a playfulness of manner that make his work appealing even today, more than a century after his death.

  3. The American Library Association annually awards the Caldecott Medal, which began in 1938 and was named in his honor, to the illustrator of the most distinguished children’s picture book published in the United States.

See “The Queen of Hearts” (1881) and “Sing a Song of Sixpence” (1880).

 

  • Kate Greenaway: 

She illustrated the book “Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes” published in London in 1881.

  1. She is best known for sugar-sweet pictures of innocent children and girls in bonnets. Her light, sketchy style was uncommon at the time, with the traditional illustrators trying to get as much detail and "verisimilitude" into their drawings as possible.

  2. The Kate Greenaway Medal, sponsored by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in the U.K., has been given annually to the illustrator of the most distinguished children’s book published in the U.K. since 1957.

See an example of Kate Greenaway’s work.

 

  • Blanche McManus:

She illustrated the book “The True Mother Goose - Songs for the Nursery” or called “Mother Goose's Melodies for Children” published in Boston in 1895. Her works have a comic touch. See “Jack Sprat”, “Little Miss Muffet”, “Sing a Song of Sixpence” and “Pat-A-Cake”.

 

  • Arthur Rackham: 

He illustrated the book "The Nursery Rhymes of Mother Goose" for St. Nicholas Magazine in 1913. In his illustrations, there are earthy old witches and eerie creatures. His pictures are very alive with details and some of them are surrealistic. See “Little Miss Muffet”, “Hey! Diddle, Diddle, the Cat and the Fiddle” and “As I Was Going to St. Ives”.

 

  • Blanch Fisher Wright:

She illustrated the book “The Real Mother Goose” in 1916 and 1944. The lines in her works are clean and sharp and the characters are well-defined. See “Jack Sprat”, “Humpty Dumpty”, “The Queen of Hearts”, “Pat-A-Cake”, and “Sing a Song of Sixpence” (find more at Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes at byGosh.com).

  

 

Part E.  Learning Activity:

Please go to Mother Goose: A Scholarly Exploration at Rutgers University. Study the visual interpretations of the following rhymes and be prepared to give an oral report next week.

  1. Little Miss Muffet

  2. Humpty Dumpty

  3. Jack Sprat Could Eat No Fat

  4. Three Blind Mice

  5. Pat-A-Cake

  6. Hush-A-Bye-Baby

  7. Pussy Cat, Pussy Cat

  8. Old Mother Hubbard

  9. Sing a Song of Sixpence

  10. The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe

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