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Registered User
(6/13/03 7:28 am)
It's obvious that there is a difference between Fairy Tales and Nursery Rhymes, in that one is a "story" and the other a "poem", but internally, they both have a "tale" to tell.

We talk of Snow White and such, but are we excluding Mary Had a Little Lamb, or do we consider it all, to fall within the basket of "Fairy Tales"?
Rym Rytr 1

Registered User
(6/13/03 12:26 pm)
FT vs. NR
I would tend to exclude Nursery Rhymes as their own distinct form. For one thing, they were intended for an audience of children, whereas fairy tales were not, but have only been simplified and bowdlerized over time to conform to what adults believed children should see.
I'm sure there are far more ways to distinguish the two, if you wanted to make a definitive list.


Registered User
(6/13/03 1:02 pm)
Re: FT vs. NR
Weren't some Nursery Ryhmes...also political or daily commentary of the times going on around people?

Sing a Song of Sixpence - If I am not mistaken was very political. Four and twenty blackbirds refered to those who plotted against the king and queen. The maid who got her nose snipped off, refered to a maid who had her nose cut off by one of the parties...I forget which ones though.

Ring a Ring O' Roses
Ring a ring o' roses,
A pocketful of posies.
Tisha! Tisha! (or) Ashes! Ashes!
We all fall down.

Was about the Black Plauge.
The ring of roses referes to the blooms of the disease upon the skin of an infected person.
Posies or other nice smelling flowers were thought to stave off the plauge, many people would carry the flowers around.
Tisha, I forgot the reference...but Ashes referes to the huge bonfires when the dead were burned.
We all fall down; you die.

Other rhymes are used for teaching numbers and letter, some have morals (For Want of a Nail) and some are riddles (Thirty White Horses).

Jane Yolen
Unregistered User
(6/14/03 11:56 pm)
We have done the Ashes/Ashes plague business at least twice here on the boards. Current research poo-poos the connection.


Registered User
(6/15/03 12:01 pm)
Re: Not
I apologize Jane. I didn't see those threads, and I was also unaware that current research showed otherwise.

As I like to think I know more about Nursery Rhymes than Fairy Tales, what is the source of research for that, please?

I'll edit out the request if I can find the threads, but that would be greatly helpful.

From what I understood of the polictical rhymes, they were a way of poking fun at authority without the threat of sedition, is that still accurate?

Registered User
(6/16/03 7:28 am)
I realize that some of us are new here and haven't had the assistance of past entries. I apologize for bringing up an already beaten "dead horse".

However... I asked the original question in an honest and open manner and find that the answers so far, peak my interest. So, unless this subject is banned. I'd like to hear more responses.

It would seem that there must be (generalization) a time-period cut off, between the NR's that were used for infroming others, cryptically and/or esoterically, and those written just to entertain. Even to this day and age, there are many, many countries where one may not express one's opinion of those in charge, without the fear of death.

As we have learned, people, sometimes whole families, have disappeared from Iraq, over the last 30 years, and in South America, there is an organization of Mothers, with pictures of their children, still trying to find out what happened to them. I forget what country.

It is somewhat obvious then that Mary and her Lamb is entertainment. (Or is it)

When I write such things, I have no political agenda in mind, yet I see certain influences, when I'm finished. Even though my "story rhyme" is about a Spider King, a Katydid and a Warrior Ant, there is still the nonsenical twist at the end.

But laced within, there has to be that which we have learned. We can not write about what we do not know about. Therefore, my "life influences", influence the tone of my stories.

Wow! Talk about topic drift...

Unregistered User
(6/17/03 2:49 pm)
Besides the rhyming aspect ...

Nursery rhymes often just show something rather than tell a story.

Also, they're less likely to use magic.

Also, they often (always?) lack resolution. Fairy tales sometimes don't really resolve the problem -- Goldilocks, Ivan and the Witch -- but often they do.

Heidi Anne Heiner
(6/17/03 6:39 pm)
Mary Had a Little Lamb
Mary Had a Little Lamb, to my knowledge, is younger than many of the other nursery rhymes and is an American creation, specifically by Sarah Hale. Hale is an interesting historical figure--an editor, writer, and champion of Thanksgiving as a national holiday. There is a new picture book about Hale's quest to have Thanksgiving recognized as a national holiday, titled "Thank You, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving" by Laurie Halse Anderson, an author and descendant of Hale. Hale apparently based the rhyme on a young student she knew.


Registered User
(6/18/03 11:40 am)
Re: Mary Had a Little Lamb
Briggsw brings to mind a side point that has bothered me for years! Why must a "story" teach? Why can't we just write for the entertainment.

I read about the Nobel Prize Winning Book or other great award, I read book reviews from the NY Times etc., and they are almost always touting that particular book or idea that reveals the inner emotions of the damages of Slavery, or the secret insights into the life of Captain Jones who ran some major corporation, or the revelation of the indiscretions of a past President and the naivety of his wife and family.

I'm not saying these kind of books are not valid! I'm just saying that for the most part, the "winners" seem to always have an alternate lesson from just plain literature.

"Walk Two Moons" is, for me, the most emotional book I've read in years! It validly teaches about a young girl and her search for her missing mother. It deserves the "Newberry"(?) that it got, but are there books out there, that get this advanced reorganization, just for their ability to fire-up our imagination?

Or is there *any* book written, that doesn't teach something, at the very least.... I can't think of one, here in the face of my own argument.

Registered User
(6/19/03 8:03 am)
Teaching texts
I think if a book sets forth with the express purpose of "teaching a life lesson", then it's likely as not going to be didactic and annoying.
However, I think it's inevitable that in writing a story as entertainment, the writer is sooner or later going to be on one side or another of an argument or debate generated within the story, by the events which are themselves the result of interacting characters. In essence, you write for people, you're going to end up saying things that have some meaning for people.
Fairy tales aren't necessarily teaching, but many of them are cautionary in nature, and many have a subtext that whispers "the world isn't fair, and bad things can happen to nice people"--not teaching exactly, but in a sense, they aren't misrepresenting things, either.
There ARE books that don't teach. These are called "movie tie-ins."

Registered User
(6/30/03 11:36 am)
I've re-written "Mary Had a Little Lamb", just for the enjoyment of it. I've put it up on one of those "free" sites and would like some opinions, good, bad or ugly.

Thanks all.

Edited by: RymRytr1 at: 6/30/03 11:38 am
Unregistered User
(6/30/03 2:00 pm)
Re: morals, points, etc.
I think a story *has* to have a point, or it feels ... pointless.

But a story that takes a political stance and tries to prove it can be rather annoying.

CS Lewis recommended you start with a story you want to write, and let the theme develop itself; that if you start with a theme, you'll get dry and dull. I never start my stories with bare statements I want people to believe, but they always have things I want people to experience.

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