Here’s one last shout-out for Poetry Month. I Saw Esau: The Schoolchild’s Pocket Book is a must read! This book of rhymes, riddles, and tongue twisters was edited by Iona and Peter Opie and illustrated by Maurice Sendak.
In the introduction to the book, Iona Opie notes the rhymes “. . . were clearly not rhymes a grandmother might sing to a grandchild on her knee. They have more oomph and zoom; they pack a punch. . . .” And let me tell you, some of the rhymes do exactly that! The contents of this book have been divided into a variety of categories. There are rhymes that are familiar to us from childhood, and there are those that are not so. Today, some of these old rhymes might be considered irreverent or not politically correct. Nevertheless, these are rhymes that will tickle the fancy of young children. They will make them laugh or squeal at their absurd nature.
From the category of Graces comes this rhyme.
Bless the meat,
Damn the skin.
Open your mouth
And cram it in.
Notice it’s not your usual before-meal grace.
There are many more attention-grabbing rhymes throughout the book that will shock and entertain readers. The Opies have also included end notes that give additional information and origins of the various rhymes. Combined with the talent and clever renderings of the iconic Maurice Sendak, this book is a work of genius. It’s a classic – not only for children, but also for adults who have not lost their inner child. Make sure to put this on your list of favorite books.