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Ye olde children’s poetry

Belt up your kirtles and hold onto your snoods. Fleas, Flies, and Friars: Children’s Poetry from the Middle Ages by Nicholas Orme (Cornell University Press, May 2012) presents a variety of verse from days of yore. After a brief context-setting chapter (“Children’s Poetry from the Middle Ages”), Orme provides sections on “Growing Up,” “Words, Rhymes, and Songs,” “Manners Maketh Man,” “Stories,” and “School Days” (further reading, notes, and an index are appended). The text explores the social history of medieval childhood; more fun, though, are the pieces themselves. Here’s a tongue-twister: “Three grey greedy geese / Flew o’er three green greasy furrows; / The geese were grey and greedy, / The furors green and greasy.” And here’s one of the “Rude Remarks”: “Hur! Hur! / The shrew bears the bur!” Oh, well; kids shalt be kids.

Elissa Gershowitz About Elissa Gershowitz

Elissa Gershowitz is executive editor of The Horn Book, Inc. She is a current member of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee.

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