Isn’t it wonderful when one good thing leads to another?
Because I loved Mique Moriuchi’s charming illustrations in Irene Latham’s new poetry book Fresh Delicious, I zipped over to her website to see more and happily found My Village: Rhymes from Around the World (Frances Lincoln, 2015), which features twenty-two verses collected by New Zealander Danielle Wright.
What makes this collection especially interesting is that the poems are presented in their native languages alongside an English translation. So we travel to fascinating places from New Zealand to Norway, Jamaica to Japan, and Indonesia to Iran, reading some of the very first rhymes children in those countries learn.
Animals are a favorite topic (whales, donkeys, monkeys, pigs, birds, mice), along with everyday activities that naturally fall into a child’s frame of reference no matter where he/she might live (playing in the rain, losing a tooth, flying kites, bath time, eating!). As former UK Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen points out in his excellent Introduction,
[Nursery rhymes] are a strange mix of poems: some are fragments of longer songs and ballads, some are rhymes that were probably oral jingles or chants that people sang or said to their children, a small group are carefully composed little poems with known authors, and some are songs that always accompanied dancing or actions of some kind.
I was happy to find a food poem from Fiji about tapioca that’s meant to be sung to the tune of “Frère Jacques”:
kena i coi na bele
kena i coi na bele
Eat, be merry
Eat, be merry
Fishy with the veges
Fishy with the veges
Yum, yum, yum
Yum, yum, yum
Tapioca has replaced yams as a favorite staple in Fiji. It’s usually boiled and eaten with stews and curries. It reminds me of the Hawaiians’ love of taro.🙂
I also liked this verse from Samoa, which is actually an excerpt from a classic song often taught in primary school English classes and to those learning Samoan for the first time. Fun blend of both languages:
Savalivali means go for a walk
tele tautala means too much talk
Alofa ia te oe means I love you
Hey, take it easy: tai tai lemu.
Teine aulelei means pretty girl
Ta’amilomilo means around the world
Whisper to me: musumusu mai
Oi aue! My, oh my!
As Mr. Rosen also mentions, nursery rhymes can become life long companions if we learn them when we are very young. Being exposed to the words, sounds and rhythms of multiple languages at an early age is such a nice way to enrich a child’s poetic DNA.
Finally, I loved “Snowman Frost” from Denmark. It’s from a poem by Halfdan Rasmussen — a sweet, poignant narrative perfect for this time of year, when the Spring thaw is not far off.
Snemand Frost og Frøken Tø
gik en tur ved Søndersø
fandt en bænk og slog sig ned,
talte lidt om kærlighed.
Snemand Frost, som var lidt bleg,
spurgte: “Må jeg kysse dig?”
Men da frøken Tø var varm
smeltede hans højre arm.
Da han kyssed’ hendes kind,
svandt han ganske langsomt ind.
Da han kyssed’ hendes mund
blev han væk i samme stund.
På en bænk ved Søndersø
sidder stakkelts frøken Tø.
Snemand Frost er smeltet op;
Hun må ha ham i en kop!
Snowman Frost and Lady Thaw
Went for walks and thought of more.
Found a garden seat and sat,
Talked of love and this and that.
Snowman Frost, a little weak,
Asked her, “May I kiss your cheek?”
But as Lady Thaw grew warm
He began to lose his form.
As their passion rose in heat
Off he melted from the seat.
When he kissed her tender lips
He slipped through her fingertips.
All alone without ‘amore’
On the seat sits Lady Thaw.
Snowman Frost no more will hug;
She must keep him in a mug!
Translating poems is tricky at best, and I was impressed with how well most of these poems scanned, and how the translators were able to create end rhymes and capture the energy and emotional essence of each poem, whether funny, playful, touching, or cheeky.
It would have been nice if a pronunciation guide was included, and if each of the poems’ languages was identified. It’s reasonable to assume a poem from Japan is in Japanese, but what about a poem from Switzerland, where there are several official languages? Is Maori something you recognize at first glance? There is some information in the Credits and Acknowledgements, but not all the languages are mentioned.
Still, this is a lovely celebration of cultural diversity with universal themes, and I love Mique Moriuchi’s colorful child-centric collages for each country’s double page spread — a most welcome feast for the eyes.🙂
⛄ MELTING SNOWMAN COOKIES 🌞
Mr. Cornelius and I felt sorry for the poor snowman. What do you do when a snowman is melting? Make Melting Snowman Cookies, of course!
We decided on Nigella’s Chocolate Shortbread Cookies — a very rich, decadent buttery delight that is sinfully delicious all on its own (probably the best chocolate cookie I’ve ever eaten). We then drizzled some melted white chocolate onto each cookie before adding mini peanut butter cups for the snowman’s hat, mini chocolate chips for his eyes, and a diagonally sliced piece of orange Starburst candy for his carrot nose.*
Some have used Reese’s peanut butter bells for the hats, which would have been easier, but they’re only available during the holiday season. Mary at Home is Where the Boat Is had the idea of cutting up mini pb cups to make the hats and that worked out fine. You need a sharp knife and an “easy-does-it” slicing technique to keep the cups from crumbling.
You can basically use any cookie recipe you like, and if you don’t have or like white chocolate, you can substitute white bark coating/almond bark which comes in squares or sometimes melting discs. Just be sure to allow the coating to cool a bit so the peanut butter cups don’t melt. The best time to add the decorations is when the coating is cool but still tacky.
*For Starburst noses: slice each square into three rectangles, then slice those again until you have six rectangles. Slice each rectangle diagonally to form 12 noses. (More tips at Frugal Coupon Living.)🙂
Now, grab a mug of hot chocolate and toast your favorite snowman. We love him when he’s here, but usually hope he doesn’t overstay his welcome. Like Lady Thaw in the poem, we’d be content to keep him in a mug the rest of the year.🙂
MY VILLAGE: Rhymes from Around the World
collected by Danielle Wright
illustrated by Mique Moriuchi
published by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, 2015
(first published in Australia and New Zealand by Gecko Books in 2008)
Multi-lingual poems for ages 3-6, 64 pp.
*Includes Introduction by Michael Rosen
📙SPECIAL BOOK GIVEAWAY!📕
For a chance to win a brand new copy of My Village, simply leave a comment at this post telling us what your favorite language (other than English) is no later than midnight (EST) Wednesday, March 2, 2016. You can also enter by sending an email with SNOWMAN in the subject line to: readermail (at) jamakimrattigan (dot) com. Giveaway open to U.S. residents only, please. Winner will be announced next Friday. Good Luck!
🎉 FRESH DELICIOUS GIVEAWAY WINNER!🎈
Are you ready to hear the name of the lucky person who’ll be receiving a free copy of FRESH DELICIOUS?
hmmm, la la la la di da . . .
Oh yes, where were we? The winner, the winner — right!
🍏 Drum roll, please. 🍎
And the winner is
🎊 DEBBIE FULMER!! 🎊
Hooray! Congratulations, Debbie!
*back flips* *cartwheels* *somersaults*
Please send along your name and address so we can get the book out to you lickety split.
Thanks to everyone for all the great comments. Yes, FRESH DELICIOUS is totally awesome!
And now, I must go lie down. All this excitement at my age . . .🙂
The lovely and talented Liz Steinglass is hosting today’s Roundup. Take her some cookies and check out the full menu of poetic goodies on this week’s menu. (Help! I’m m-e-l-t-i-n-g!)
Do you have snow on the ground right now where you live? Do you remember the very first snowman you ever made?
*Interior spreads posted by permission of the publisher, text copyright © 2015 Danielle Wright, illustrations © 2015 Mique Moriuchi, published by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books. All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2016 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.