Schwartz, Alvin. 1992. AND THE GREEN GRASS GREW ALL AROUND: FOLK POETRY FROM EVERYONE. Ill by Sue Truesdell. U.S.A.: Harper Collins Publishers. ISBN: 0060227575.
AND THE GREEN GRASS GREW ALL AROUND is a collection of poetry, riddles, rhymes and taunts pulled from our folklore, and collected by topic by the industrious Alvin Schwartz. Topics range from People to School to Wishes—and Warnings, Riddles, Nonsense, A Tree, and more. Older readers will remember many of the street rhymes from their own childhood jump rope games, and some taunts and songs may still be familiar to children today. (“Goodnight, Sleep tight, Don’t let the bedbugs bite.”) Pictures by Sue Truesdell are humorous action-packed caricatures pulled from the text, and illustrated in black and white. Not every rhyme is illustrated. While some included poetry is only two lines long, others, such as “On top of spaghetti, All covered with cheese, I lost my poor meatball, When somebody sneezed.” go through many verses, a few lines of musical notation for reference, and several illustrations. The collection concludes with a useful list of sources, notes, and abbreviations pertaining to each item in the collection.
This collection, while eclectic, is a fun ride down memory lane. Certainly, not all included rhymes will be known by all readers, and part of the book’s charm is the ability to find something new. Children will enjoy many of the foolish or easy-to-remember jingles and games the book includes, and may also make use of some of the insults and taunts. These less-friendly inclusions show the author’s dedication to recording “street rhymes,” as he calls them, in their many different forms and functions. (Example: “Row, row, row your boat Gently down the stream, Throw your teacher overboard And you will year her scream.”)
Although many of these poems have multiple versions, only one has been selected for inclusion in the collection, and Mr. Schwartz’s list of street and bibliographic sources are impressive. The illustrations, while not important in explaining each jingle or poem, add valuable energy to the text, and often portray the humor or silliness of a given rhyme. Both the pictures and the text are reminiscent of many a Shel Silverstein book of children's poetry.
School Library Journal: “A marvelous book that is sure to become a classic if children have any say in the matter. Schwartz has gathered sassy, funny, scary, and slightly naughty children's folk poetry heard on schoolgrounds and wherever else kids are having fun.”
The Horn Book: “Sue Truesdell's cartoon drawings dance and tumble across the pages as a perfect accompaniment to the rhymes they illustrate. . . . A wonderful collection for reading, singing, and laughing out loud."
==> Great for Physical Education jump rope inspirations during gym class.
==> An opportunity to explore and encourage poetry on an accessible and often hilarious level with younger children.
==> Discuss the definition of history—how do we decide what is worth recording or retelling to future generations?
==> Also a great precursor to or example for a discussion about common themes across time. Some of the included rhymes, while very familiar, are also very old.