What Is Up With Nursery Rhymes?

Hi!  J here.  Jamie blogged about poetry on Monday and that inspired me to share with you all a project that I’ve had on the back burner for quite a while. I have 3 year old twin boys and a 6 year old niece.  Over the last 6 years, I have read more nursery rhymes and fairy tales than I can count and mostly, they are terrible! 

Example: Rub a dub dub, 3 men in a tub, who do you think they be?  The butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker, all heading out to sea.  Really?!  Come on!  3 men in a tub might have been reasonable fare at one time, but it’s pretty ridiculous now. 

How about the Princess and the Pea.  In this one, the king opens the door on a rainy night to find a rag-a-muffin standing outside claiming to be a princess.  They test her by putting a pea at the bottom of 15 mattresses.  Since she’s bruised in the morning, she must be a princess.  What is that about?!  Let’s torment our guests to see if they’re telling the truth?  And don’t get me started on the idea of a king opening his own door.  Can you say butler?

And even though Disney/Pixar/WB has done a decent job with princesses lately, I’m still quite tired of our princesses waiting to be rescued by Prince Charming.  Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella all have no character develpment of the hero.  None.  He doesn’t even have a name!  Could be the same charming fella rescues them all and has some kind of harem!

I know these were written ages ago as cautionary tales for kids, but I think they need serious updating.  This brings me to my back-burnered project and today’s secret: I’ve started to write a collection of new nursery rhymes and I want to do an updated collection of fairy tales.  Unfortunately, I’m not a very good poet.  I have always hated poetry and it’s tough to write.  Click here to read my first nursery rhyme.

Today’s question: What is your favorite fairy tale?  Mine is The Little Mermaid.


16 thoughts on “What Is Up With Nursery Rhymes?”

  1. Of course, the most famous nursery rhymes were political satire and social commentary. “Georgie Porgie” was about the Duke of Buckingham, who had several notorious affairs, including one with the Queen of France, but got away with it because he was the King of England’s best friend. “Ring Around the Rosie” is about the burning of bodies during the bubonic plague. “Jack and Jill” is about Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. Makes “losing his crown” a bit more ominous, don’t you think?

    1. See this is why I don’t understand why we are still telling our children these tired old stories! We’re not telling them political satire etc from the Civil War era…

  2. I loved your nursery rhyme, J. You are hilarious!

    My favorite is the three little pigs. This one taught me that if you’re going to do something, do it right the first time. Of course if they were really smart, they would have bought a shot gun and blasted the mean old wolf in the ass. But that’s just me.

    1. See, I always felt for the wolf in that one…it was too bad he didn’t manage to gobble up those two lazy pigs…they kinda deserved it for treating their brother so badly. All that mocking over the brick house…

  3. Cute poem! I’ve tried my hand at it too. (For a children’s series)

    I also took a theatre class in college where we learned the history of all the fairy tales and nursery rhymes. I remember the story of Little Red Riding hood was pretty scandalous….and scary. Let’s just say she wore red for a reason. 😉

    1. Thanks! Poetry is way harder than I would have though. I always like Little Red Riding Hood, but never understood the bit about the wolf. How did the woodsman and grandmother manage to be swallowed whole…I never got that…

  4. Loved the poem… I think I always liked Cinderella..When I was a preteen, I would dream of being rescued when I was ironing baskets of laundry for 7 people, back then I had David Cassidy and Donny Osmond singing love songs to me on the AM radio, so that was saving enough..

    1. I’m sure I dreamed of Shawn Cassidy rescuing me from the drudgery of homework and my paper route! And who didn’t love Donny? Those purple socks of his were dreamy!

  5. My personal favorite is Richard Scary’s Nursery Ryhmes. Gotta love Taffy was a Welshman, Jack Sprat, Peter Piper, etc. And I still love Lowly Worm! As as fairy tales go – personal favorite is Beauty and the Beast. When I was a teen I loved Robin McKinley’s – Beauty. I must have borrowed it from the library a zillion times.

    1. I’ll have to check out Richard Scary…we haven’t read those. And Beauty and the Beast is a nice story…I like the Disney version.

    1. I have so much trouble with Fox in Sox! It’s one huge tongue twister. I love some of the others. Like Green Eggs and Ham or the Sneeches. 🙂

  6. I loved your post. I never gave nursery rhymes a thought, just read ’em to my kids and tucked them in. I did not know jack and jill were associated with Louis XVI and his Marie. But I guess Jack did go up the hill to fetch a pail of whatever, he fell down and broke his crown and Jill came tumbling after. WOW! And the others you pointed out, great job. Loved your little ditty! Thanks for the new found information. What is the king and the door and saying butter?

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