Friday, March 06, 2009

Reader's Diary #465- Peter Redvers (poet) and Don Harney (illustrator): Mother Raven Nursery Rhymes

Back when I lived in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, and my daughter was still an infant, one of my favourite things to read to her were these nursery rhymes with a northern twist. I didn't know much about them. I had found Xeroxed copies in a binder at the school where I worked, but it was missing the title page and any information about where they came from, who wrote them, and who drew the illustrations. All I knew was that we enjoyed them and to this day I believe they helped instill a love of poetry in my daughter and perhaps helped her along in becoming the voracious reader she is today.

My only regret was that somewhere in our many moves we lost the copies I had made and I wasn't able to read them to my son who came after. Fortunately, I went to a used booksale this past weekend and found the poems again-- and in book form! My son's in for a treat.

Written by Peter Redvers of Hay River, Northwest Territories in 1989, later illustrated by Don Harney of Fort Smith, Mother Raven Nursery Rhymes has had three printings in its lifetime, the last of which was 1999 when it was distributed exclusively by the NWT Literacy Council as a fundraiser. A rare book for sure, but I'm hoping subsequent printings are in its future.

Here's a favourite of mine:

Jack and Jill

Jack and Jill chopped through the ice
to fetch a pail of water,
the ice was thin
and Jack fell in
and Jill came sliding after.

Then up they popped
and home they hopped
before their bodies froze,
Jack caught a chill
and got quite ill
and Jill lost all her toes.

There are a few more available here and here, but it's as a .pdf and you'll need to put "Redvers" in the finder to reach them.


tanita✿davis said...

Wow. Jill. Lost her toes.
But, hey. If you fall into water you have to CHOP a hole to get into, I would expect Bad Things to happen.

Realism. Not to be overrated.

laurasalas said...

Love this! Perfect nursery rhyme for Minnesota, too!

jama said...

What a twist! I suddenly feel very cold. . .

Elaine Magliaro said...

I always enjoy reading nursery rhyme parodies. Thanks for this post.

Anonymous said...

As a Winnipegger, I totally relate to these nursery rhymes. I wonder if I can get this title in our local library! These are nursery rhymes my kids can certainly relate to.

Kelly Polark said...

Some harsh lessons in nursery rhymes! What a find!

Chrisbookarama said...

They sound good and not more scary than falling out of a tree or dying of the plague.

John Mutford said...

Tanita: You're right, nothing wrong with a lesson on frostbite.

Laura: Though some of the others, especially with the northern animals, may not be as applicable.

Jama: There's another cold one that begins, "Humpty Dumpty fell in the snow, the temperature was 40 below.

Elaine: I'm not sure I call it a parody as much as an adaptation, but yes, they're always fun.

Sally: What do you mean? It never gets cold in Winnipeg. ;)

Kelly: And I'm hanging on to it this time.

Chris: Or whipping.

Wanda said...

Unfortunately, this book doesn't appear to have made it as far East as the Halifax Regional Library system. I've checked e-bay and a few other on-line book swap/shop sites to no avail. If you do learn of subsequent printings for 'Mother Raven Nursery Rhymes', please let me know. I'd love to have a copy or two for my daughter and nieces.