10. My Book House — Volume 1: In the Nursery

In the Nursery What I remember most about this volume was the very first entry — a poem by Robert Louis Stevenson that I memorized and recited it as a prayer in leiu of God-is-good-God-is-great-let-us-thank-him-for-our-food. My parents believed me that it was a prayer for years. I think someone ratted on me and told my parents it was not a prayer, but a poem instead.

I suppose the fact that God is not mentioned in the poem at all should have alerted my parents that it was not a real prayer. They were not exactly church-going people, so what did they know?

The World is so full
Of a number of things,
I’m sure we should all
Be as happy as kings.

I also remember a story that is in this book called First Adventures — I actually remember my mom reading it to me and I remember reading it to myself after I learned how to read. It is about a little girl named Janie whose mother takes her for a walk in a stroller. It uses nonsense phrases like, “walkety walkety walk” for the sound of the stroller, and “snip snip” for the sound of scissors at the barber. When my kids were babies and I’d take them for a walk, I always thought, “walkety walkety walk”.

Hey Diddle DiddleIn addition to the poems, rhymes and stories in this book, and all the books, for that matter, are the lovely illustrations. The illustration of Hey Diddle Diddle has a lot going on, including an annoyed moon. I always thought the dog looked a little mad as well, even though he is supposed to be laughing.

Mother GooseAnd the illustration of Mother Goose is what I’ve always thought Mother Goose to look like (probably because this was my first introduction to Mother Goose — duh).

One last thing that is in each of the books — something I didn’t realize as a kid — many of the pages have footnotes that tell something extra about the writing. For instance the footnote for Hickory Dickory Dock says:

So old are many English nursery rhymes that some, like Hickory Dickory Dock, keep the memory of the Celtic language spoken long before English in England. Old shepherds still count their sheep hovera, covera, dik, instead of eight, nine, ten.

These books keep on giving. I think, if I’m ever stranded on a desert island, these books would keep me busy for a long, long time — even at my advanced age.

April 25, 2010. Tags: , , . childhood, life-changing, literature, picture book, poetry, would recommend.

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