I have always enjoyed fun sounds, wordplay and especially tongue twisters. Living in Poland for my first seven years, I had a favorite book of rhymes called Sto Bajek (100 nursery tales) by Jan Brzechwa. It was (is – I still have it) chockfull of playful sounds, rhythms and preposterous humor. One of the poems is a tricky tongue tangler. Be forewarned- the Polish language is severely lacking in vowels. Here is the first line:
W Szczebrzeszynie chrząscz brzmi w trzcinie
Phonetically: vscheb- zhe-shin′ yeh hshoansh bzhmee vch-chin′ yeh (yikes!)
Translation: In the town of Szczebrzeszyn, a locust is buzzing in the reeds
I have fond memories of sitting in my grandmother’s lap as she read this poem to me. I’d snicker in advance, just waiting for her to fumble. She recited it perfectly every time, though, and I squealed all the same with the pure joy of hearing such sounds.
When I came to the United States, my relatives gave me a big book of Mother Goose which I read earnestly. The repetition of words and rhymes and appealing sounds helped me to learn English. Soon I was able to make sense of the verses – well, as much sense as could be made of those quirky old poems. I found them odd, mesmerizing. Were they pure fantasy, or some indication of American culture? An old woman living in a shoe with a gaggle of kids. Blackbirds flying out of a pie. Peter’s wife in a pumpkin shell. A little man jumping over a candlestick. Very strange. What did it all mean?
I went from Mother Goose to Dr. Seuss. His outrageous humor, flawless meter and irresistible sounds captivated me and contributed greatly to my lifelong love of rhyme.
Little did I know that someday I would be making children’s books filled with rhymes of my own. I am eternally grateful! And, wow, the more I write the more I appreciate Dr. Seuss’s brilliance. He was light years ahead of his time.
Most of my books are extended nursery rhymes. Using the traditional first verse as a starting point, I then add new verses to create a story. My book, Rufus and Friends-Rhyme Time ( a companion to Rufus and Friends- School Days), is a collection of fourteen extended nursery rhymes.
Rhyme Time features fun language, tongue twisters and wordplay. In keeping with the wordplay theme, I had Rufus and his four canine pals put on a play and act out the rhymes. The first verse is traditional. The added stanzas are my words. Here are two I hope you’ll enjoy:
And here are a few other tongue twisters I have written which I hope will make you smile:
Old Sly is a sloop sailing skipper.
There isn’t a skipper more chipper
Than Sly who sips soup
On his sea sailing sloop.
He’s a chipper sloop skipper, soup sipper.
(What do you think? Have I been influenced by the good Dr. Seuss?)
Said Curly Shirley to her tea,
“Would you like a stir?”
“Surely, Curly Shirley, stir me”
Said the tea to her.
Every time I give my duck
A cracker for a snack,
He smacks his bill
And flaps and claps his wings behind his back.
I guess you’d say he goes completely bonkers for a cracker,
My noisy smacker, flapper, clapper, cracker-snacker quacker.
Pat is a pickpocket.
Pat is a nitpicker.
Pat picks pockets quickly,
But nits Pat picks quicker.
The trouble with Rich is,
When Itchy Rich itches,
Each itch Itchy Rich can’t ignore.
With each itch of Rich’s
He tweaks and he twitches,
And of which the glitch is
It makes each itch itch Rich much more.
And I am itching to hear from you!
Do you have any favorite rhymes or tongue twisters you’d like to share?