Not For Kids

One of my favorite illustrators, the guy who drew this. Back in the 70s Wallace Trip did a whole book of nursery rhyme illustrations, each with tongue-in-cheek text like you see here.

“A Diller a Dollar a Ten o’clock Scholar” is one I faintly remember from a childhood spent in the same house as three individuals born in the 1860s and 1870s. Back in the old days people had all kinds of things committed to memory, not like now when if we’re really on top of our game we can maybe recall the words to a jingle or two. (Our brains don’t seem to store stuff anymore. We might as find a way to pop them out and use them to sponge off the counters.)

I bought the book this picture is from back in the fine old summer of ’78, after my first baby and before my second one when I had all those widely-flared hip hugger pants and hair like Farrah Fawcett’s (well, as long as it wasn’t raining.) I tried to read it to my 18-month-old. thinking the music in the nursery rhymes would be nice, but  of course the cartoons were totally beyond her. 

I still have the book and last month tried reading it to my little grandsons.  “We don’t like this book”  the seven year old told me in no uncertain terms.  Looks like his momma, my former baby,  remembers the book and having looked at it in adulthood, has pronounced its tone not fitting for little ones.

I’m looking at it again here, seeing what the little badger’s words are to the schoolmaster.  “Sir if I may be permitted to say so, sarcasm has no place in the classroom,”  he is saying. So it looks like irony has no place in the classroom either, still less the nursery. Live and learn I guess. Live and learn.


10 thoughts on “Not For Kids

  1. Irony has a place in the classroom, but not sarcasm (which is a subset of irony used to wound). My experience of teaching a course in satire for many years is that students love irony–recall that voice of Holden Caulfield–but usually not until they are in high school. Younger students are a bit concrete. Of course, no one likes sarcasm very much at all.

    1. ah thanks for this clarification here Roger.. The little boys and their mother sensed that something was being mocked in the book and that put them on their guard I think. I taught for 7 years at large public high school and loved it. Even all these years later I sometimes see former students who quote back to me word for word something I once said to them. I knew it even at the time but REALLY know it now: we must be so careful with young people !

      1. I’m certain that I could quote much more than even you remember my dear teacher. Here it is almost 40 years later and I still live by so many of those words….. word for word. You were more than careFUL…. you were carING.

      2. Is that my star pupil from the first row fourth seat? I was thinking of you today Ms. Evans. Did you know the world is supposed to end on your birthday this Saturday? 🙂

  2. Poetic, isn’t it, that the world would end on a birthday that is moving rapidly closer to social security!? xo

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