Nursery Rhymes


Tonight while reading Detective Blue by Steve Metzger and illustrated by Tedd Arnold,  I realized I failed ML.  She didn’t get parts of the story because she didn’t know all the nursery rhymes references. I feared I missed my chance.  Once children reach a certain age, nursery rhymes are seen as babyish.  Luckily, children’s authors and illustrators are keeping them alive in children’s minds by expanding on rhymes or changing the rhymes’ words.

Cindy Moo by Lori Mortensen and illustrated by Jeff Mack – Cindy Moo overhears the farmer’s daughter reading the nursery rhyme Hey Diddle Diddle.  She decides if the cow in the story can jump over the moon, she can too.  She tries and fails.  Then, tries and fails again.  But Cindy Moo doesn’t give up hope.  Even when the moon disappears completely.  After a very rainy evening, she is able to jump over the moon.  We love the various facial expressions on the cows throughout the book.

The Adventures of the The Dish and the Spoon by Mini Grey -Another book playing on the “Hey Diddle, Diddle” rhyme.  This book is a love story highlighting the fun and not so fun times the dish and spoon experience after running away.  The illustrations suggest they fell off the white cliffs of Dover and floated all the way to the Statue of Liberty.  After robbing a bank, dish is broken and immediately deported.  Spoon serves jail time and is deported upon release.  They reconnect in a Junk Shop.  I’ve featured Mini Grey before.  ML loves her books  and I do too.  The hidden comedy for adults in her illustrations delights.

Monster Goose by Judy Sierra and illustrated by Jack E. Davis – ML calls these “Scary Nursery Rhymes.”  With titles like “Mary Had a Vampire Bat” and Little Miss Mummy” popular nursery rhymes words are changed.  The new rhymes follow the same rhythm of the original.  ML and the boy down the street like to pretend they are zombies.  So ML’s favorite rhyme was “There Was an Old Zombie.”  I like “Slithery, Dithery, Dock.”  The illustrations are not too scary, but scary-funny.  No nightmares after reading this book.

The Web Files by Margie Palatini and illustrated by Richard Egielski–  Thankfully, I didn’t fail ML completely.  She got all the nursery rhyme references in this book and loved the play on words like “The sheep said this is b-a-a-a-d!  Really b-a-a-a-d!” and “quack the case.”  You can’t help but laugh at all the nursery rhyme characters featured in the illustrations.  Our favorite part of the book… repeating Dum De Dum Dum.

As a child, I remember pouring over Mother Goose:  A Treasury of Best-Loved Rhymes edited by Watty Piper and illustrated by Tim and Greg Hildebrandt.  Last night I found it on my bookshelf and shared a few rhymes with ML.  Thankfully, she’s not opposed to an overdue education on nursery rhymes.  She thinks it’s cool to read a book I read as a child, published the year of my birth.



Backyard Farm


When ML was young we lived downtown in a house with a sunny backyard.  We turned it into a backyard farm; planting raised beds with tomatoes, lettuce, collards, potatoes, asparagus, cucumbers and many other vegetables.  Fig, apple, pear, plum, persimmon and pomegranete trees dotted the yard.   Plus, a few muscadine vines.  All this on less than a quarter acre.

Today, the library received Judy Sierra’s newest book, E-I-E-I-O:  How Old Macdonald Got His Farm.  I can’t wait to read it to ML.  Old MacDonald lives in a small house in a neighborhood.  He doesn’t like to mow the grass.  So, he buys a goat.  Then, a hen who helps turn his backyard into a small farm.  The neighbors are not happy.  Matthew Myers illustrations are hilarious.  From the Better Coops and Garden magazine cover to the parent and child eating carrots like ice-cream.  My favorite is  the picket line of neighbors holding painted signs…  Neighborhood Mud Watch, Our Block is Eroding and Get a Yard.

Two years ago we moved.  Our backyard doesn’t get a lot of sun… but our front yard does.  Last year, we planted blueberries, strawberries, asparagus, muscadine vines, a fig tree and a pomegranate tree.  Then, we attempted a variety of vegetables in various places throughout the yard.  Sweet peas, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, okra and butter beans.  Knowing which places in the yard these vegetables thrive, we’re adding more to the mix.  Spinach, swiss chard and brussel sprouts were planted last week.  Thankfully, our new neighbors are not opposed to urban farms.  Behind us and up the street are chicken coops.  Many of our neighbors grow vegetables and fruit in their yards.

This weekend is the kickoff for Plant a Row for the Hungry at Logan’s Trading Company.  One of our favorite events of the year.  Last year,  one of the children’s activities was painting a pot and planting lettuce in it.  ML’s pot is on the front steps waiting for this very cold winter to go away.  Throughout the growing season, we drop homegrown produce at Logan’s.  The Inter-Faith Food Shuttle distributes it to local families in need.  Make it a lunch date and visit Seaboard Cafe at the garden center.  Fresh made from scratch soups, salads, sandwiches and burgers are available.  If the daily special is a barbecue sandwich, don’t miss it.

For my readers in Raleigh, check out Raleigh City Farm.  Tour the farm, purchase produce, even volunteer at the farm.  A great use of an empty lot in downtown Raleigh.

Tea Parties

This is not a political piece.
However, I do have advice for all politicians –
Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Independent, Socialist, etc.
Read picture books about tea parties.
Your manners are lacking.  The books below will teach you etiquette.


Tea Party Rules by  Ame Dyckman and and  K. G. Campbell – This one begins by the hostess demanding her guests follow all the rules.  Very slowly the story develops a friendship that is more give and take, instead of dictatorial.

Tea Rex by Molly Idle – Mr. Rex is invited to tea at Cordelia’s house.  Even though he’s big and clumsy, he’s treated with respect.  At the end of the book, Cordelia is invited to sit down at the table with Mr. Rex and his dinosaur friends.  What a concept.  Sitting down at the table and treating others with respect.

Mind Your Manners, B.B. Wolf by Judy Sierra and illustrated by J. Otto Seibold – B.B. Wolf’s song says it best “Even in a house of bricks, big bad wolves can learn new tricks.  Sip your tea and never slurp, say “excuse me” if you burp.  Smile and have a lot of fun, But don’t go biting anyone!”

Miss Spider’s Tea Party by David Kirk – A classic from 1994.  Miss Spider invites various insects to join her for tea.  For obvious reasons, they refuse.  Until a fragile moth soaked from the rain accepts Miss Spiders hospitality.  The moth told the other insects about his experience.  So the other insects joined Miss Spider for tea.  Sometimes it only takes one to make a difference and get the conversation following a different path.

***I wrote this post during the government shutdown.  My hospitalization got in the way of my posting it.  The shutdown is over.  It’s only a matter of time before the next crisis.  Here’s hoping politicians will learn manners between now and then***