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.