Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Over in the Meadow & Way Out in the Desert

Growing up in Southern California, where the climate and environment are more like Australia than England, makes for hard going for the impressionable young bookworm. You're never going to know what a moor is, there's no snow, and a hedgehog might as well be a hippopotamus. It's dry here and so different from the rest of America, much less Europe, so all the children's books end up seeming a little foreign, or it seems a little like you have a peculiar life.

Imagine my joy, then, when I found this author's note in Way Out in the Desert, a recent used bookstore find:
Your mom and dad may have sung "Over in the Meadow" when they were children--and probably your grandma and grandpa did, too! It was written more than one hundred years ago by Olive A. Wadsworth. 
Here in the Sonoran Desert, we would have to go a long way to find a meadow. We decided to write new words to the tune of "Over in the Meadow" so we could sing about the plants and animals in our own backyards. We hope you enjoy learning all about them!
Ah! Someone who understands the odd predicament of the Far West child, not to mention someone who understands the infinite appeal of "Over in the Meadow." We love love love the John Langstaff-Feodor Rojankovsky version, which I picked up at a library book sale a few months ago, and "Way Out in the Desert" is just as fun. Among other things, I have learned to properly pronounce ocotillo, Gila, saguaro (sa-WAR-oh) and javelina, thanks to a glossary in the back of the book. If you see either of these books, grab them if you can. They're both totally lyrical, beautiful and great for teaching numbers.

Note the "5" shape hidden in scales of the mama Gila monster.

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