AND THE GREEN GRASS GREW ALL AROUND :
FOLK POETRY FROM EVERYONE
In his book, AND THE GREEN
GRASS GREW ALL AROUND, Alvin Schwartz has collected about 300 poems and songs that people have made up, recited, or sung for
decades, and even centuries. They are poems that mostly children recite or chant
for any number of reasons. “They are funny, silly, scary, sad and useful,
and a few are beautiful.” They are composed by everyday people about everyday
life, from the first verse in the collection, “Fudge, fudge, tell the judge, Mama’s had a baby!” to the
last, “Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite.”
In the table of contents,
Schwartz has divided such a possibly cumbersome amount of verses into fifteen different groups, from “food” and
“school” to “love and marriage” and “nonsense.” In reading through this book, I found
it fun to see how many of these I already know and how many of the ones I do know differ from the way I learned them. Many of the poems are meant to be sung, so Schwartz has included the musical scores
The drawings by Sue Truesdell
are simple and whimsical, exactly like the verses. There are line drawings with
shadings of gray to adorn every page. She captures the mood of the book perfectly.
Schwartz has included at
the end of his collection interesting notes, a list of sources, an extensive bibliography, and an index of first lines. The notes are particularly interesting because they include information of some of
the origins and history of the verses. For example, he informs us that “until
the late nineteenth century jumping rope was mostly a boys’ activity. . . By the 1920s jumping rope was almost completely
a girls’ game.” He also explains that “Literary poets try to
use beautiful language to express their ideas about life. Folk poets use the
everyday language ordinary people use.” The Bibliography is quite extensive,
and Schwartz has denoted the books that young people would enjoy with an asterisk.
Even though these poems have
survived for generations in the oral tradition, writing them in this collection has ensured that they will live forever.
Alvin. 1991. AND THE GREEN GRASS GREW ALL AROUND : FOLK
POETRY FROM EVERYONE. Illustrated by Sue Truesdell. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN: 0060227583.
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