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The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes by…

The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes (original 1951; edition 1997)

by Iona And Peter Opie (Editor)

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448541,303 (4.14)5
Over five hundred traditional nursery rhymes, accompanied by illustrations and detailed notes about each rhyme.
Title:The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes
Authors:Iona And Peter Opie (Editor)
Info:Oxford University Press (1997), Edition: New, 592 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes by Iona Opie (Editor) (1951)


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  pszolovits | Feb 3, 2021 |
This is an older edition, originally published in 1951. The authors, Iona and Peter Opie, were a couple who compiled what’s probably the most extensive collection of “children’s ephemera” in the world. Their introduction debunks a number of myths about nursery rhymes – most are not of extreme age; most are not some sort of coded reference to political events; and most were originally not intended for the nursery but were, rather “preserved by the nursey”. (There are exceptions; “Thirty days has September” goes back to the 13th century; but “Old King Cole” does not reference the 3rd century British king). There are equivalents in other languages: “Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall” in England, while “Hümpelken-Pümpelken sat op de Bank” in Saxony. Alphabet rhymes are a category legitimate to the nursery, with “A was an apple pie…” and “A was an archer who shot at a frog…” Counting rhymes are popular all over the world – the authors collected “Eeny, meeny, mony, my” from Wisconsin and “Ena, mena, mona, mite” from Cornwall and “Hana, mana, mona, mike” from New York and “Ene, tene, mone, mei” from Germany. After the introduction, the actual rhymes are collected by categories, ranging from “Apples” through “Father” to “Master” and finishing with “York”. Delightful; but will likely evoke a little pensive nostalgia, ( )
1 vote setnahkt | Jun 30, 2019 |
Most reference books inspire imitation. This one inspires only admiration.

The reason is simple: To create another such reference, particularly one that would improve on the Opies's work, would be almost impossible.

There are a number of factors that make this a great book. To begin with, its fullness -- 550 nursery rhymes. Also there is the organization: The rhymes are organized topically by the key concept, but with an index of first lines so that they can be found by that means also. This organization has the advantage that it makes it easy to find multiple rhymes on the same topic. There is also an index of "notable figures" so that a reader can track down which editors were responsible for preserving and setting down particular rhymes.

And, in addition to the rhymes, there are the notes. These include historical and background notes, source notes, and cross-references. Often these are longer than the nursery rhyme itself, and frequently include variant forms of the rhyme.

Throw in a significant number of illustrations from early printings of the rhymes, and the net result is a book that almost certainly contains just about every useful fact known about these much-loved short poems. There are a few places where one can quibble with the result. But, after more than half a century, there has been no attempt to replace, or even to supplement, this book. That should be testimony enough to its quality. ( )
2 vote waltzmn | Nov 29, 2012 |
I enjoyed reading this book. I found that many of these poems have been turned into songs. I would use this to introduce poetry to young students. Children love to sing and by using these poems in a song might make the lesson more engaging for students.
Here are more poems by Iona And Peter Opie. I think many of these poems can be used in any classroom. http://www.indiana.edu/~liblilly/shorttitle/opie.html ( )
  bspentecost | Apr 4, 2010 |
My mum had this book when I wee, and I remember being fascinated by all the little drawings throughout. I've got that copy now, coverless and dog-eared, but I still love it. It's full of nursery rhymes and poems, both well-known and unfamiliar, and a great wee riddle game. ( )
  JenMacPen | Dec 12, 2009 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Opie, IonaEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Opie, PeterEditormain authorall editionsconfirmed
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A hundred years have passed since the first publication of The Nursery Rhymes of England, 'collected principally from oral tradition' by James Orchard Halliwell. (Preface)
In Britain and America, and wherever the English word is spoken, the children become joyful and wise listening to the same traditional verses. (Introduction)
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Over five hundred traditional nursery rhymes, accompanied by illustrations and detailed notes about each rhyme.

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