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>Singing Our Song

>On our way to work today, Miss Pod randomly chirped up with Carole King’s “The Snow Queen.” It’s a pretty intriguing song, moving from Andersen’s heartless, scornful Queen; to the girl in school who won’t let any of the boys near her; and ending up somewhere in “La Belle Dame Sans Merci” territory, all set to to a sixties jazz-waltz beat.

What other songs have been tilled from our field? The only one I can think of offhand is “Charlotte’s Web” (“Now I’m the one who’s caught in . . .”) by the Statler Brothers.

Roger Sutton About Roger Sutton

Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.



  1. >Well, speaking of Carole King, there is an entire musical of her songs made up of/inspired by Maurice Sendak stories. I listened to that record (Really Rosie, 1975)about 938 times when I was a kid. It was just put on CD in 1999. I mean, it is a children’s album…these are not grownup songs. But they are still awesome, and you will never get “Chicken Soup with Rice” out of your head as long as you live.

  2. KT Horning says:

    >Not quite what you’re looking for, but there was a punk rock band out of Kent, Ohio, called Harriet the Spy. Their 45 labels featured the famous line drawing of Harriet writing in her journal.

  3. >There’s Kenny Loggins’ “Return to Pooh Corner.” And, of course, the Led Zeppelin song that references Tolkien. I can’t think of the name at the moment. I’ll Google around for it.

  4. Anonymous says:

    >Well, Ramble On was the Zeppelin song that I was thinking of, but Battle of Evermore talks about the wraiths and the Dark Lord. It looks like there is a lot out there in the Google world about Zep and Tolkien…

  5. Anonymous says:

    >”Go Ask Alice,” the old druggy anthem.

  6. Anonymous says:

    >”Little Red Riding Hood/You sure are lookin’ good/You’re everything a big bad wolf could want/Awooooooo!”

  7. rindawriter says:

    >Supposedly, Metallica has a song “Where The Wild Things Are” based on the book; I’ve never heard that particular song, but I believe the book was made into a children’s opera as well and actually performed in a few places.

    It is hard for us readers of Sendak here in the Northwest, to forget Sendak’s enormous and talented work in theatrical field with his version of the Nutcracker in Seattle that gets sold out every year. You don’t appreciate his superb handling of delicate pastel shades quite as much in the printed book illustrations until you see his costumes and set designs in that performance. Perhaps new printing techinques will bring that part of his illustrations out more. He’s such a gentle, kind person, it always seemed to me. I’ve never thought “Wild Things” scary, nor have I ever found children to find it scary either.

  8. >I love that Little Red Riding Hood song. Thanks for bringing it back to mind. It’s by Sam the Sham and the Pharoahs, isn’t it? “Awoooo…I mean baaaaaah!”

  9. Roger Sutton says:

    >I just remembered–“Oz never did give nothing to the tin man / that he didn’t, didn’t already have.”

  10. Anonymous says:

    >”Enter Sandman,” by Metallica:
    “Exit light/Enter night/Take my hand/We’re off to never-never land.”

  11. Rosemary Graham says:

    >Another band name inspired by children’s lit is Veruca Salt.

  12. fusenumber8 says:

    >Here in New York there’s a band named Mister McGregor. It used to be named Bunny Rab, but when they split and formed a new group they renamed it appropriately. And in Atlanta there was a band called On Beyond Zebra.

  13. Gregory K. says:

    >Roger — you’re referencing Tin Man by America. The earlier Alice reference is White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane.

    Charlotte Zolotow’s William’s Doll was turned into a song in 1972’s Free to Be You and Me. Don’t know if it was a big old pop hit or not.

    Last year there was an album called From Under the Cork Tree by a band called Fall Out Boy who said the title was inspired by Munro Leaf’s Story of Ferdinand (a rather unlikely rock and roll source, seems to me).

    And of course most famously, the Beatles sang their big hit Picturebook Writer and… oh, really? Never mind.

  14. Elizabeth says:

    >There’s a recording (I heard it was a hit in the 50s) of Kay Thompson singing “Eloise” — a pop song.

    On a tangential note,I remember a book edited by Meredith Charpentier in the 80s called (as my memory serves) “Moon Song.” I told Meredith I knew the melody, and she said many had told her that…but that they were never able to discover any music for it. She believed that a lot of people (like my dad, who sung the song to me with a tune he evidently made up) had invented music to the poem, which appeared in a popular collection of children’s poetry. Does anyone know the text/art? I remember Zoon zoon/ cuddle and croon/over the twinkling sea/a moonman fashions a silver net, [something] of moonbeams three.

    Finally (forgive my sentimentality, oh serious scholars), what about songs made up around the house about children’s books, or children’s books set to homespun music? These tunes are insidious. Everytime I see Dan Yaccarino’s “If I Had a Robot” on my shelf I start humming “If I Were a Rich Man”

  15. Claire, MLIS student says:

    >”Charlotte Sometimes” by the Cure is a favorite.

  16. Andy Laties says:

    >On the Caedmon recording of Edward Lear’s poetry, Beatrice Lillie and Stanley Holloway perform “The Jumblies” in a rising, dipping, melodious atonal lilt. I suppose that since the record/tape/CD must have sold tens of thousands of copies since the 50s, it constitutes some sort of hit….

    (RISING) Far and few,
    (HIGHER) Far and few,
    (HIGHER) Are the lands
    (LOW) Where the Jumblies live.
    (REPEAT: RISING) Their heads are green,
    (HIGHER) And their hands are blue
    (HIGHER) And they went
    (LOW) To the sea in a sieve.

  17. Andy Laties says:

    >Woops that’s:

    (LOW) To sea in a sieve.

  18. Anonymous says:

    >Words from one of Margaret Mahy’s earliest books, The Procession were appropriated by Blerta, a New Zealand band in the 1970s. The song, Dance all around the World subsequently became one of the most iconic NZ pop songs yet most people wouldn’t know that it was connected with Mahy.

    And so they danced until they came to a beautiful castle
    There lived a prince with his two wise tutors and two guards
    ‘Come, Dance around the world with us’ said the man in brown
    ‘But no!’ cried the turors ‘For a prince must learn of law and justice’
    ‘But a prince should also know the sound of the wind on the trees , and the song of the crickets’ said the man in brown

  19. Chris Barton says:

    >Will Kimbrough has a lovely song called “Goodnight Moon.” Nothing to do with the great green room, but beautiful all the same.

  20. Anonymous says:

    >I once thought that the British band Silver Chair had taken their name from the C. S. Lewis novel. “How cool!” I thought. But alas, in an interview, they admitted that they had intended to call themselves Sliver Chair but misspelled it. Sigh.

  21. Elizabeth says:

    >Roger and I were just talking about good movies/TV versions of David Copperfield, and I remembered of the 60s/70s band Uriah Heep! Hadn’t thought of them in years. OK, Copperfield is not a children’s book, but you’ve got to admit that’s a great name for a band. Also, anyone care to answer two questions Roger and I had about Dickens? Which Dickens books are most taught in jr. high/high school (my guess: Great Expectations, Tale of Two Cities, and Oliver Twist) and which (excluding A Christmas Carol) have been read and/or are known by the most people currently living? To answer the latter, I feel David Copperfield must be added to the list, though I don’t know many kids who read it. (And one more Dickens comment. My favorite of his novels is Bleak House.)

  22. Julie Danielson says:

    >”‘The king is in the counting house, counting out his money’
    {Look yourself in the eye before you drown. Falling, Falling, Falling, Falling down}

    Falling, Falling, Falling, Falling down.
    Look yourself in the eye before you drown.

    ‘The queen is in her parlour, eating bread and honey’
    {Look yourself in the eye before you drown. Falling, Falling, Falling, Falling down}”
    –Indigo Girls

    The wonderful band, Shivaree, has the tune “Goodnight Moon,” though about a haunting, not the children’s book.

    –Julie Danielson

  23. >Came upon this thread by accident, but how cool!

    I know there is at least one Aerosmith song that references Alice in Wonderland, (can’t remember the title or the lyrics offhand, unfortunately) and the Dixie Chicks’ “Godspeed, Sweet Dreams” has a line that goes, “Goodnight moon will find the mouse . . .”

  24. >Ooh, Roger, I can’t believe I only just caught up with this entry, because I have been wondering about songs referencing children’s books lately too! It was sparked by hearing an old song from the 80s by the band Australian Crawl called “White Limbo” which references Alice in Wonderland.

    In reference to earlier comments, silverchair are an Australian band, not British, and when I met Penelope Farmer about a decade ago, she said she was not very impressed that The Cure had “pinched” her book “Charlotte Sometimes” for their song. Me, I’d have been flattered beyond measure!

  25. >I believe the former guitarist for Genesis, Steve Hackett (back when there were two guitarists for Genesis, that is), has written a lot of songs about Narnia on his albums.

    I can’t think of other songs, which is frustrating, because usually I have all the music stuff cross-referenced in my head somewhere.

  26. Anonymous says:

    >”Enter Sandman” has been immortalized as the theme song for the greatest closer of all time -Mariano Rivera.

  27. Singing Lessons Dude says:

    >@ Roger: I loved Carol King. Not just her great singing but her lyrics and artistry. A true talent. 🙂

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