Some rhymes for 'dictionary' suggested by an online rhyming dictionary. Hmmm.
Almost anyone who writes in rhyme uses a rhyming dictionary—at least some of the time. However, the best rhymes usually come from the deep reaches of a poet’s memory and unconscious. Personally, I suspect that using a rhyming dictionary could keep me from discovering a great rhyme, like Dr. Seuss’s pairing of “Apartment 12-J” with “hidden away” in Horton Hears a Who. If I’d been using a rhyming dictionary when I began writing Antarctic Antics: A Book of Penguin Poems, I might have given up when I discovered that there is no rhyme for penguin.
Words that rhyme in English can have vastly different spellings, and words that have similar spellings can have different pronunciations. This makes using a rhyming dictionary difficult. My husband owned a copy of The Poet's Manual and Rhyming Dictionary when I met him, and I turned to it when I began writing poetry for children. The book uses phonetic spelling to distinguish between vowel sounds. Nothing breaks the spell of writing poetry more quickly than having to learn phonetic spelling.
My favorite rhyming dictionary (a print dictionary, though sadly out-of-print) is Sue Young’s Scholastic Rhyming Dictionary. It contains only words I would really use, and they are given in vertical lists with lots of white space around them (and some cartoon illustrations besides). There is an index, but no phonetic spelling is required.
Online rhyming dictionaries eliminate the need to consult an index or learn a phonetic spelling system. There are some great online rhyming dictionaries, and some not-so-great ones (some appear to have been written by robots). I’ve watched a couple change and get worse.
Online rhyming dictionaries are used mostly by songwriters, who count on singers to shape the sounds of their words in performance. Songs can contain “near rhymes” or “slant rhymes.” A poem on the page is held to a higher standard. Does bill rhyme with real? Does room rhyme with tune? Not in a children’s picture book.
My current favorite online rhyming dictionary is Rhymezone. On Rhymezone, the most commonly-used words are highlighted in dark blue. This helps me skip past unlikely and unlovely candidates. As a bonus. Rhymezone offers many examples of how a particular word has been rhymed in classic poems, and in popular songs, from Broadway musicals, to jazz, to country and western, to rap. I love this feature because it puts the rhymes in a creative context.
But even Rhymezone suggests far too many words that just don’t rhyme—see Rhymezone's partial list of rhymes above for the word “dictionary.”
"Teachers will have field day with this wordplay; this caper is clever, capricious, and cunning."
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review) Read the full review here.
"Bored with sitting in a dictionary “day in, day out,” the words make a break for it and organize a parade—which lets Sierra (WildAbout You!) and Comstock (the Charlie Piechart series) introduce linguistics terminology in just about the most playful way possible."
--Publishers Weekly (starred review)
The Great Dictionary Caper, illustrated by Eric Comstock. Paula Wiseman Books, Simon and Schuster, January 23, 2018.
What's it about?
When all of the words escape from the dictionary, it's up to Noah Webster to restore alphabetical order in this supremely wacky picture book that celebrates language.
Words have secret lives. On a quiet afternoon the words escape the dictionary (much to the consternation of Mr. Noah Webster) and flock to "Hollyword" for a huge annual event—Lexi-Con. Liberated from the pages, words get together with friends and relations in groups including an onomatopoeia marching band, the palindrome family reunion, and hide-and-seek antonyms. It's all great fun until the words disagree and begin to fall apart. Can Noah Webster step in to restore order before the dictionary is disorganized forever?
It’s a widely-reported fact* that Dr. Seuss selected the words in The Cat in the Hat from a list of 348 words given to him by William Spaulding, the director of the education division of the publishing company, Houghton Mifflin.
Number of words on the original list given to Dr. Seuss: 348
Number of unique words he was supposed to use: 225
Number of unique words he actually used: 236
Total number of words in the book: 1,629
Words used only once: 54
Words used just twice: 33
Number of one-syllable words: 221
Number of two-syllable words: 14
Number of three-syllable words: Only 1--another
For fun: here’s a link to an activity sheet that shows all 236 words in The Cat in the Hat. You c-o-u-l-d try to make a story from them, but I must warn you that it took the very talented Dr. Seuss at least nine months to do it, including (according to one of his tongue-in-cheek “true stories”) several months working in his Uncle George’s coal mine.
*But was there really a 348-word list? I have not been able to track it down, nor do the words in the book match popular word lists used at that time. I think there was a list, but that Dr. Seuss adapted it to include words that rhymed with words on it, along with compound words like plaything. The only person's name in the book—Sally—was the name of the little sister in the Dick and Jane readers.
Bob and I are thrilled to launch this new "best-of" multicultural folktale collection, Fifty Favorite Read-Aloud Folktales, as an ebook. Over the past thirty years, we have published over a hundred stories for young children, both as picture books and in anthologies. As some these books went out of print, we asked for reversion of rights, which publishers generously gave us. Now we've put our fifty favorites on Kindle (Kobo and other platforms coming soon).
Some of these folktales are old favorites, others are less well-known. Many are variants of classics like "Hansel and Gretel" or "Rumpelstiltskin." They work equally well as read-alouds and stories told without the book. They make great audience participation pieces—children just can't seem to keep themselves from joining in.
You can download three stories as a free preview on Kindle here.
Table of Contents
The Elephant's Wrestling Match (Cameroon)
Magical Mice (Japan)
The Beautiful Butterfly (Spain)
Johnny Cake (United States)
Roly-Poly Bug (Italy)
Mr. Bear Squash-You-All-Flat (Russia)
The Rooster and the Sun (Mexico)
The Straw, the Coal, and the Bean (Germany)
The Rat's Daughter (Japan)
The Toontoony Bird (Pakistan)
The Wonderful Pancake (Ireland)
One Good Turn (Mexico)
The Three Little Piggies and Old Mr. Fox (Scotland)
Henny Penny (England)
The Gunniwolf (United States)
The Three Billy Goats (Norway)
Uwungelema (South Africa)
The Three Bears (England)
Peace and Quiet (Yiddish)
The Singing Pumpkin (Iraq)
Juan Bobo (Argentina)
Tengu's Magic Nose Fan (Japan)
The Deer, the Fox and the Tiger (China)
The Monkey and the Crocodile (India)
The Coyote and the Lizard (Native American, Pueblo)
Soup from a Nail (Sweden)
The Three Wishes (England)
How Ijapa Tricked the Hippopotamus (Nigeria)
The Bremen Town Musicians (Germany)
A Bridge of Crocodiles (Indonesia)
Silly and Sillier (England)
Jabuti Tricks Mr. Jaguar (Brazil)
The Fearsome Beast (Kenya)
The Tortoise and the Iroko Man (Nigeria)
Too Many Fish (Borneo)
Taily-po (United States)
The Black Velvet Ribbon (United States)
The Sprightly Tailor (Scotland)
The Hairy Toe (United States)
The Nung Gwa Ma (China)
Tasty Baby Belly Buttons (Japan)
Clever Mandy (Bahamas)
Jean and Jeannette (France)
The Cake Tree (Sri Lanka)
Master Thumb (Myanmar)
Wiley and the Hairy Man (African American)
The Zim (South Africa)
Jack and the Beanstalk (England)
I first saw a sculpture of the Hindu goddess Saraswati in front of a high school in Bali, Indonesia. Saraswati is the four-armed Hindu goddess of learning, music, and art. In one of her hands, she holds a book. I was surprised that the statue showed her atop a spread-winged goose. In my mind’s eye there suddenly appeared a venerated figure from my own culture, Mother Goose. According to an old nursery rhyme (which may once have actually rhymed),
Old Mother Goose,
When she wanted to wander,
Would fly through the air
On a very fine gander.
Was Saraswati a relative of Mother Goose, I wondered. After all, the Indonesian island of Bali is at the far southeast corner of the Indo-European culture area, England is at the northwest edge.
I remembered Saraswati last week, when a teacher shared a quote from Reading Magic by Mem Fox,
"Experts in literacy and child development have discovered that if children know eight nursery rhymes by heart by the time they're four years old, they're usually among the best readers by the time they're eight."
In Bali, Saraswati is venerated for all her gifts. She even has her own Saraswati Day.
Mother Goose, meanwhile, has been banished to the nursery. But apparently she hasn’t lost her goddess power, and woe to any parent who neglects to pass along her rhymes.
This statue of Saraswati and her goose (looking more like a swan?), created by five Balinese sculptors led by I. Nyoman Sudarwa, was unveiled at the Indonesian Embassy in Washington DC in 2013. One of the three studious children sitting by Saraswati is a young Barack Obama, who lived in Indonesia as a boy.
Saglana Salchak, a soon-to-be-five-year-old girl, lived with her grandparents in the taiga forest of Siberia, near the Mongolian border. When she awoke one morning last month, she wasn’t able to rouse her grandmother. Her grandfather, who is blind, told her to go to the nearest neighbor, five miles away, and get help. Saglana took a box of matches in case she needed to light a fire.
“It was very cold and I was so hungry,' said the girl. "But I wasn't scared. I was just walking, walking, walking. And I finally got there."
Semen Rubtsov, head of search and rescue in Tuva, praised the girl:
“Herders’ children are more prepared to such extreme situations than kids who live in the cities. . . .There was a great danger—wild animals. Bears are hibernating now, but Tuva is crowded with wolves . . . . In the dark she could easily have stumbled on a pack. This girl was lucky that she did not meet them. Her only hope would have been to climb a tree.”
This real-life adventure contains elements of "Little Red Riding Hood,” but in a different configuration. Did Saglana’s family tell her a tale about a child, a solo journey, and a wolf, I wonder. Many folktales for young children offer practical advice for dangerous situations. European "Red Riding Hood" tales warn children to stay on the path. Chinese “Red Riding Hood” tales describe escaping a tiger by climbing a tree.
The covered basketball court behind the Multnomah Art Center continues to serve as my research lab for contemporary hopscotch. After a year of observing and interviewing the kids, it appears that although traditional hopscotch is an inspiration for their drawings, none of the artists ever try to play. They are usually drawing solo This past week it's been raining heavily. Basketball players have stayed away, and chalk artists have covered the asphalt. Keiko suspects that squirrels may be responsible for this particular fantasy hopscotch, which originates about twenty feet outside the frame of the photo.
Born February 24, 1786
This is a portrait of Wilhelm Grimm in 1815, at the age of twenty-nine, just after the publication of Kinder- und Hausmärchen, known in English as Grimms' Fairy Tales. Nearly every portrait of the Brothers Grimm shows them as older men, but they collected and published their tales when they were in their twenties. Wilhelm went on to revise new editions of the collection for the next 45 years.