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Where the Sidewalk Begins
[FINAL Edition]
The Washington Post (pre-1997 Fulltext) - Washington, D.C.
Author: Dirda, Michael
Date: Nov 6, 1988
Start Page: x.16
Section: BOOK WORLD

In many ways, this is a less scholarly version of American Children's Folklore-[Withers] simply reprints his poems, riddles, folk wisdom and rhymes-but the material is slightly sanitized and a little old-fashioned. Oddly this makes A Rocket in My Pocket all the more winning, like a Norman Rockwell painting. And it includes material left out of [Simon J. Bronner], such as those wonderful circular stories without end, e.g. the tale of the group of Indians sitting around on a cold and stormy night whose chief rises to tell a story about a group of Indians sitting around on a cold and stormy night, or that endless dialogue about life: "That's tough! What's tough? Life. What's life? A magazine. Where do you get it? Newsstand. How much? Fifteen cents. I've only a dime. That's tough! What's tough? Life . . . ."

BOTH BRONNER and Withers include some games, but for real guidance Vivienne Sernaque's Classic Children's Games is clearly a Hoyle for 2- to 10-year-olds. She begins with Ring Around A-Rosy, advances to Duck, Duck, Goose, and then plunges into the intimidating subgenre of Jump Rope and its infinite variety. Naturally, [Vivienne Sernaque Dell] includes, as does Bronner, the immortal rope-skipping chant, "Miss Lucy had a baby/ She named him Tiny Tim/ She put him in the bath tub/ To teach him how to swim . . ." (The modern critic, trained in deconstruction and feminist literary theory, cannot but wonder about the unstated drama behind these simple words: The unwed mother Miss Lucy, who perhaps unconsciously wishes to rid herself of a sickly, hungry child-tellingly named after the crippled Dickens hero-and his rescue by that dea-ex-machina, the mysterious Lady with the Alligator Purse.)

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