Saturday, October 11, 2008

REVIEW: Heavy Words Lightly Thrown

Title: Heavy Words Lightly Thrown: The Reason Behind the Rhyme
Author: Chris Roberts
ISBN: 1592401309/Gotham Books
Rating: B

First Line: It should come as no surprise that nursery rhymes are full of sex, death, and cruelty.

Chris Roberts often leads walking tours of London. Having his tour guide patter constantly besieged with questions gave him the idea for this book. Roberts' preface to the US edition talks a bit about the metamorphosis this book has taken, and he thanks Gotham Books for the idea of including a glossary for those Americans who, unlike me, don't have an in-house interpreter for Cockney rhyming slang and the like. (Fortunately I didn't have to avail myself of my interpreter while reading Heavy Words Lightly Thrown.)

Roberts took me on a journey through many of the familiar nursery rhymes of my childhood: Little Jack Horner, Old King Cole, Pop Goes the Weasel.... I knew the origins of some and was quite enlightened by others. To say that I'll never think of goosebumps the same way again would be an understatement! I quite enjoyed Roberts' humorous style and think anyone interested in literary history would as well.


  1. well this sounds interesting. I wonder if our library will be getting it in...

  2. Cool review! I'll definitely be looking for this one. I read a book a few years back that gave the history behind the Grimm Fairy Tales and it was really interesting, so I think I will enjoy this one too.


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