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Pop Goes the Weasel: The Secret Meanings of…

Pop Goes the Weasel: The Secret Meanings of Nursery Rhymes (2008)

by Albert Jack

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1666110,528 (3.29)4
Examines the truth behind the meanings of popular nursery rhymes, identifying characters like Mary Quite Contrary, Georgie Porgie and Jack and Jill, and explores the events that inspired them, from Viking raids to slave smuggling.
  1. 10
    The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes by Iona Opie (waltzmn)
    waltzmn: There are many books available which examine the sources and meanings of nursery rhymes, but this book by Iona and Peter Opie remains the classic. It is thorough (550 rhymes), it is carefully documented (including, in some cases, reproductions of the earliest known edition), and it does not speculate too much. Sometimes it leaves out some interesting speculations. But surely it is better to be reliable always that possible occasionally....… (more)

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What we think of as rhymes for children, were really the political cartoons of their day.
Many of them refer to actual events. ( )
  Huaquera | Dec 18, 2018 |
If you are reading nursery rhymes to older children (upper elementary) like I am this is a great companion guide to share with them the background and possible history or meaning behind the rhymes. For instance we learned that Humpty Dumpty was actually a cannon used by the British (it fell off the wall and all the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't put Humpty together again). Great for a unit study on nursery rhymes.
  wunderlong88 | Dec 11, 2017 |
I read this one over the course of a single day home sick from work. It is lots of fun and quite informative. I feared that the author might put forth the theories of the rhymes as fact but he did not; he was very fair and balanced and simply presented the best and most interesting theories, understanding that the true origins of most of the verses are lost in the mists of time. This was an enjoyable read. ( )
  glade1 | Jun 10, 2017 |
Get ready for a wild ride.

Nursery rhymes often mean more than we realize, and there is an honorable tradition of collecting them and trying to figure out what they mean. Some of these books -- notably Iona and Peter Opie's Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes -- are excellent pieces of scholarship. Some -- like the word of Katherine Elwes Thomas -- are closer to drug dreams.

This book is somewhere in the middle, but leaning toward the wild side. Take "Jack Sprat." Jack-the-author suggests that this was inspired by the reign of King Richard the Lion-hearted, who was imprisoned in Austria, forcing the English to scrape up a huge ransom -- i.e. to "lick the platter clean." This is historical enough, and England was indeed scraped bare to get back their hard-fighting nitwit of a king. But Richard I was king from 1189 to 1199 -- the early Plantagenet period. Richard -- who spend only six months of his reign in England -- spoke no English, and even if he had, the English of the time was early Middle English, not Modern English. "Jack Spratt" could not have been composed in Middle English.

So there is a lot of material here that is purely speculative or, in some cases, wrong. Of course, some of it is right as well. It's not a bad book; it simply needs to be controlled. The Opie book would be a good start. But this is a lot cheaper.... ( )
  waltzmn | Jan 20, 2014 |
Somewhat Interesting, but filled with a ton of British nursery rhymes I'd never heard of before. Also the author makes it clear that there is no way to know for sure the meaning of any of these rhymes - he just gives possibilities and tells you which is his favorite. ( )
  sixteendays | Dec 30, 2012 |
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This book is dedicated to my mum in Guildford, Sheila Podmore, because every mum should have a book dedicated to her at least once in her life. In fact, let me do it for you. This book is dedicated to your mum, too:
(insert name here)
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I first had the idea of studying the history of nursery rhymes about ten years ago.
The cow jumped over the moon
Richard Neville (1428-71) was the 16th Earl of Warwick and 6th Earl of Salisbury.
(p. 67)
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