Virtual Children's Books Exhibits


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Creepy CrawliesCreepy Crawlies

4a.  Tommy Thumb's Pretty Song Book.
London: M. Cooper, ca. 1744.

4. Alte Kinderreime.
Ernst Kreidolf, illustrator.
Cologne: Hermann Schaffstein, 1905.

Snails are associated with a large body of folklore, and practices, such as using snails to divine the name of one's future husband, are described in The Oxford Dictionary of Superstitions by Iona Opie and Moira Tatem. Across Europe children have chanted rhymes to induce snails to come out of their shells. One which was printed in the first collection of nursery rhymes from the eighteenth century (detail above). A German example is illustrated to the left: "Schneck im Haus,/ Komm keraus./ Kommen zwei mit Spiessen,/ Wollen dich erschiessen;/ Kommen zwei mit Stecken,/ Wollen dich erschrecken [Snail in the house,/ Come on out./ Two with spears are coming to shoot you/ Two with sticks are coming to scare you]." There is an interesting article about this kind of rhyme in Peter and Iona Opies' The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes.