Read Pop Goes the Weasel: The Secret Meanings Of Nursery Rhymes by Albert Jack Online


In Pop Goes the Weasel, Albert Jack explores the strange and fascinating histories behind the nursery rhymes we thought we knew, showing that their real meanings are far from innocent. Who were Mary Quite Contrary and Georgie Porgie? How could Hey Diddle Diddle offer an essential astronomy lesson? And if Ring a Ring a Roses isn't about catching the plague, then what is itIn Pop Goes the Weasel, Albert Jack explores the strange and fascinating histories behind the nursery rhymes we thought we knew, showing that their real meanings are far from innocent. Who were Mary Quite Contrary and Georgie Porgie? How could Hey Diddle Diddle offer an essential astronomy lesson? And if Ring a Ring a Roses isn't about catching the plague, then what is it really about? This ingenious book delves into the hidden meanings of the nursery rhymes and songs we all know so well and discovers all kinds of strange tales ranging from Viking raids to firewalking and from political rebellion to slaves being smuggled to freedom. From the grim true story behind 'Oranges and Lemons' to the deadly secrets of Mary Quite Contrary's garden, and from how Lucy Locket lost more than her pocket to why Humpty Dumpty wasn't egg-shaped at all, Pop Goes the Weasel is a compendium of surprising stories you won't be able to resist passing on to everyone you know. 'An irresistible treasure-trove'   Daily Mirror 'Most of us can still recite the words to nursery rhymes we learned as children, but how many know the real meanings behind our most familiar verses? Albert Jack reveals hidden histories of cannons, courtesans and vengeful queens'   Guardian 'The history behind nursery rhymes is not only highly specific but often splendidly grim'   The Times Albert Jack has become something of a publishing phenomenon, clocking up hundreds of thousands of sales with his series of bestselling adventures tracing the fantastic stories behind everyday phrases (Red Herrings and White Elephants), the world's great mysteries (Loch Ness Monsters and Raining Frogs) and nursery rhymes (Pop Goes the Weasel)....

Title : Pop Goes the Weasel: The Secret Meanings Of Nursery Rhymes
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781846141447
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 292 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Pop Goes the Weasel: The Secret Meanings Of Nursery Rhymes Reviews

  • Steven Peterson
    2019-04-22 02:59

    What a concept! A book that deconstructs classic nursery rhymes!Some examples to illustrate:"Baa, baa black sheep,Have you any wool?Yes sir, yes sir,Three bags full.One for the master,One for the dame,And one for the little boy Who lives down the lane."Edward Longshanks--Edward I. He taxed wool to fund his campaigns and other foreign adventures. 1/3 of the price of each sack went to the king (master), 1/3 to the church (the dame), and none to the actual shepherd (the little boy).I used to think that "Ring-a-Ring O' Roses" (or, as I learned it, "Ring around the rosey") was about the Black Plague. However, the book notes pretty persuasively that that was unlikely."Three Blind Mice"? A number of hypotheses. One of those is a reference to "Bloody" Mary, Queen of England. The three blind mice represented former leaders whom Mary imprisoned and then executed.Anyhow, a lot of fun exploring the origins of the meaning of many of our favorite nursery tales. . .

  • Erikka
    2019-04-13 04:42

    This was really interesting and full of info I didn't know (honestly, that happens pretty rarely with trivia books). I love origin stories for phrases and rhymes and this covered most of the more popular nursery rhymes (and several I've never seen before but whose origins were still interesting). I also liked his writing style and how open-minded he was about the nebulous truth behind some of the rhymes--he never outrightly claimed an origin if it's merely rumored. This is a massive change of pace from other books I've read on this subject. He also dispels many myths, which pleases me (Ring Around The Rosey is not about the Black Death and Lady Godiva never rode naked). However, the America bashing got a bit harsh at times (not that I don't agree with him in some cases, but it still sucks to hear), especially in the song section at the end.

  • Choi Tang
    2019-04-15 01:03

    Very interesting! If I had known the meanings/origins of my childhood chants during my childhood I probably would never have had any faith in humanity.

  • Caitlin
    2019-04-26 04:53

    I'm currently stuck in the world of nursery rhymes with a young person in my life - so these are things I don't just read once a night, but every car trip and supermarket journey features singing or clapping along to these rhymes (on demand from my little one.) I try to find some of the more obscure ones to keep things interesting, and I'm pretty keen on history, so I thought this would be some good light reading to get me out of a reading slump.It's always going to be fascinating to explore the history of some of the most ingrained nursery rhymes, and exploring them meant a journey through a lot of British royal history especially. I do like that Jack admits when there's more than one possible origin to a song (although sometimes I feel the straws are being clutched.) I guess knowing that at one point in history at least one king had someone inform them, "They're still singing that song, sire" makes it feel a little less boring (and even a little daring) to be singing them today.

  • Tyas
    2019-04-18 07:04

    I was writing the draft for my second novel and I was looking around for some information, when I found this book in Kinokuniya Grand Indonesia. I picked it up, not only because I thought it might be useful, but also because it looked so interesting.Turned out that I didn't find much to use in my novel, but I got to know a lot of exciting stories behind seemingly innocent nursery rhymes and anthems, from London Bridge Is Falling to The Star-Spangled Banner. Jack wittily provided the best, most-convincing explanation for each nursery rhyme, although in the case of a rhyme with dubious past, he gave more than one explanation, for readers to decide which they like the most.But the illustration quality is, I'm sorry to say, poor, as if an amateur-artist-friend has volunteered to do the illustrations, although the cover is nice.

  • Elizabeth
    2019-04-23 02:57

    I think this book is best utilized as a reference book rather than a "cover to cover" read. I found myself glossing over rhymes I didn't know or ones that I didn't care about. I did not find the author's style particularly engaging and many of the theories are vague. I think lovers of English history and folklore are the likely targets for this book. It is a neat premise- just maybe approached in a less-than-effective way.

  • Meltha
    2019-04-01 00:41

    3.5 stars, really, mainly because the book is oddly uneven. I freely admit I've never heard of a good portion of these nursery rhymes, which appear to be predominantly from England. The meanings behind them were in some cases very interesting (Humpty Dumpty in particular), but in many cases the author maddeningly presents a plausible explanation, then rips the rug out from under it without warning by stating that, no, actually there is a more plausible one, before throwing in a third one that he then attests is the actual real one. Honestly, in a lot of cases it came across as guessing, which is fair, but still kind of aggravating. The illustrations, though, were the really odd bit. Why the heck is Jack-Be-Nimble crotch on fire? Why is a cat climbing out of QEI's clevage in Pussycat Pussycat? Why the heck is Mary of little lamb fame dressed up like hooker wearing a leash being led around by a sheep? Actually, seriously, do not answer that last one. Some of the poems actually do have hidden bawdy content, but those didn't, so it just felt weird rather than funny.

  • Andrew
    2019-04-04 07:02

    A fascinating & entertaining survey of the often murky origins of our favourite nursery rhymes; not quite the innocent stories they first appear to be, involving real historical figures, mocked, satirised & pilloried to ridicule & shame! Albert Jack's humorous asides on such familiar facets of our culture highlight our healthy scepticism about powerful people. Long may it continue!Now...a nursery rhyme about Tony & Cherie Blair...with Tony's stick-on grin & the wicked witch's pointy hat, toad & broomstick?! Tony had a wicked grin/ he used it like a knife/And everywhere that Tony went/ he took his wicked wife!/she turned all Tories into rats/ and liberals into slugs/and Tony picked up all the dosh/ from all us stupid mugs! Howzat?!

  • Chris Baker
    2019-04-10 01:06

    You'll never hear a nursery rhyme the same way after reading this book. Albert Jack does a wonderful job of revealing, in his conversational style, the suspected origins of many of the best known. They're surprisingly shocking, with prostitutes, misbehaving royals and hapless military leaders just some of the subjects of these verses, suggesting that many had a satirical purpose long before their meanings were forgotten and they were collated into collections for children. Where there is some doubt, Jack suggests multiple readings, while additional verses make for some nice (and occasionally explicit) extended versions. As such, these oral memes provide some fun insights into British humour, domestic and political life in times gone by.

  • Beth Huddleston
    2019-03-28 04:57

    This was so cleverly put together. I loved that research did not just give one possible way these nursery rhymes came about. There was so much history; I loved it.

  • Feistytiger
    2019-04-18 03:00

    This books gives an interesting insight into the stories behind many classic Nursery Rhymes. Jack proposes several theories behind each story in a brief and simple manor - although he does explain these are theories only as we may never know the truth, and with some of the rhymes he explains serval different ideas to how the rhymes came about. However I do somewhat think he is trying to over think these rhymes and they may have no reference at all to what he is pinning them on. This is a great book to dip in and out of, and one i would recommend reading more than once. As looking back I only vaguely remember what the stories were behind the rhymes as nothing seems to have stuck which is a shame. Is this purely because I need to read it again, or was the style of writing just not memorable? However great book to get an idea of how these rhymes came about.

  • Evelyn
    2019-04-12 05:06

    This book was extremely interesting. It tracks down, as best as they can, the historical origins of nursery rhymes. Sometimes more than one origin is included because they aren't sure which is the real one. Many rhymes are included (most of the ones that I know plus many more besides), as well as several songs, like the Hokey Pokey and Good King Wenceslas. Very interesting and fun to read. I've talked about several of the origins with my children, because we've learned about many of the people they are based on in history. Many, but not all, of the stories are based on the royal families of England, some also on the traditional ways of life 'back then'. Some are quite humorous (Yankee Doodle) and others are more sobering (Goosey Goosey Gander). Almost all of them are very interesting.

  • KeithBlodgett
    2019-04-01 02:59

    I'm done... I didn't finish but I'm done. I used to feel guilty not finishing books but I've decided that I'm not obligated to slog through books I'm just not enjoying.Pop Goes the Weasel is supposed to contain the 'secret meaning' behind nursery rhymes. Mostly it's dry and boring British history from centuries ago. For every salacious tidbit of knowledge you're drowned in dates and names you really won't remember and couldn't care less about.I don't know if the author dug deep to find the most obscure rhymes to flesh out the book but for every rhyme I remembered from my childhood there were a dozen, strange and obscure, that I'd never heard of. Maybe it would help to be from Britain but I was truly bored by the majority of rhymes in this book.

  • Amanda Mastran
    2019-04-19 23:53

    A fun read if you like quirky history and tales of dark deeds. Jack shares different explanations for the origins of English nursery rhymes, some of which are fact, but many a combination of history and myth. As entertaining as it is, the book has a few downfalls. One being that if you lack a basic understanding of English history you could very easily become lost amongst all the Marys, Elizabeths, Richards, and Henrys. The fact that the rhymes are ordered alphabetically, rather than in groupings with related origins does not help the fact. The other main downfall is that although Jack appears to consider himself a witty writer, he is not. He makes some lackluster attempts at jokes, but the history can still get a bit dry at times.

  • Alicia
    2019-04-22 04:42

    For what was there, it was a pretty interesting book. In my opinion, the author got a little melodramatic at times, "And they are important, in my view, because many of them tell the true tale of some of history's darkest or most tragic events." From there, he goes on to do quite a bit of waffling providing 2 or 3 possible origins for most of the rhymes without providing an expert opinion on which is the most likely. Nevertheless, the stories were short and engaging and sometimes surprising. And it was particularly interesting to see how some of them had been influenced by how certain other authors or artists used them (like Humpty Dumpty).

  • Brittany
    2019-04-04 03:08

    I just read about the nursery rhymes that I was familiar with. The origins of the rhymes are mostly theories drawn from history. Sometimes there are several theories listed for the origin of one rhyme. Maybe it's because I'm not as familiar with British history, but I feel like all the theories seem to blend together. I have been reading this book off and on the past year and I wouldn't be able to tell someone the origin theories to each nursery rhyme off the top of my head. If someone asked me about the origin of a certain nursery rhyme, I would have to go back and re-read about it before I could answer.

  • Erin
    2019-04-27 02:04

    This was an interesting little book. It's a collection of histories of common nursery rhymes. The author organized it in alphabetical order by the nursery rhyme and then describes the history of the rhyme. Many of them go back to Tudor England. The author is English so he uses the English versions of the rhymes, which are a little different than the versions Americans know. It's a very light read, in spite of the educational aspect. I did find myself running to wikipedia a few times to look up the historical figures I'm not familiar with.

  • Miss Ryoko
    2019-03-28 06:09

    This was a very interesting book. Although I hadn't heard of many of the nursery rhymes presented by Jack, it was fun to read possible historical stories tied to them. The only thing I didn't like is Jack tossed aside theories simply because the time period the theory was about didn't match up with the year the nursery rhyme had first been written down. Just because they don't match up doesn't mean that long before it was written down it wasn't recited. That's just my opinion though. Despite that, it was an interesting read

  • Mary
    2019-04-08 06:01

    Remarkably compelling bathroom reading (by which I mean, of course, to read while brushing your teeth), this book provides not just an awful lot of "did you know..."s, but also a surprisingly in-depth look at British history (especially of Henry VIII and Bonnie Prince Charlie, about whom most rhymes seem to be composed). The Britishness may be its only downfall, because some of the rhymes are very different from the ones we Americans (i.e. I myself) recall.

  • Sherri
    2019-04-22 23:49

    A good little reference book, with interesting stories. Besides the well-known nursery rhymes there are many obscure rhymes as well.This works best as a reference source instead of a regular read. The stories and names begin to run together after awhile. A good knowledge of British history is very helpful too.

  • Ellen
    2019-03-27 22:54

    Organised alphabetically by name of nursery rhyme it makes it easy to read this book from beginning to end or just read the ones which interest you. Not a definitve guide but lots of speculation and possibilities as to the meanings of the nursery rhymes. Some were more tenuous than others based on particular phrases. If I ever come across a nursery rhyme section in a pub quiz I'll be set.

  • Sarah
    2019-04-15 07:09

    I picked this one up randomly and it is amazing! I loved every minute of Albert Jack’s romp through history: it appears that most nursery rhymes are based on historic events surrounding Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, and the Bonny Prince Charlie.Yes, some of the nursery rhymes are obscure, but the history really isn’t. Great for history buffs.

  • Amanda Griggs
    2019-04-10 03:45

    An interesting look into the way nursery rhymes were used throughout history to tell events that needed to remain unspoken at the time- though I would have liked a bit more historical background on some of those events, and maybe combined rhymes that spoke of the same events/people instead of going in a strictly alphabetical manner.

  • Carina
    2019-04-26 23:50

    I really enjoyed this book - it could do with some better editing in places (there were unfortunately a few times where I had to re-read a sentence or two in order for me to be sure of what I was reading), and the level of interpretation varied wildly from rhyme to rhyme but it was really interesting.

  • Kelly K
    2019-04-13 00:01

    There were a ton of nursery rhymes in this book that I had never heard of. This made the book a little less interesting since they weren't rhymes I grew up with. The ones that I had grown up with either had slightly different words in this book or I had already known the meaning behind them. It was still kind of interesting but it was mostly a very dry book.

  • Whitney Garrett
    2019-04-15 23:49

    This book started out slow, but the further I got in the book the more nursery rhymes I recognized and the more interesting it became. Given that the author is British, there were many nursery rhymes unfamiliar to me. There were also a few I was familiar with, but are obviously slightly different in America. It would have been nice to see some of these differences addressed.

  • Kirsten
    2019-04-21 00:50

    I suspected that this was going to be rather light-weight. I could have gotten the same results from Google or Wikipedia. Pretty unsatisfying. (Also: in most cases, the British versions of the rhymes are used, which is fine, but a discussion of how the British and American versions differ - and why - could have been interesting and fruitful. So that was a missed opportunity.)

  • Laurel
    2019-04-10 04:47

    My God, if it weren't for all of these wars and conspiracies we wouldn't have had any nursery rhymes! I found the book enjoyable, humorous, and food for thought. "The Star-Spangled Banner" will never be the same.

  • Hayley
    2019-04-18 23:02

    An interesting anthology of explanations behind not only nursery rhymes, but traditional songs and anthems, too. It makes you really think about all of the songs you have grown up with and what they really mean, for they are rarely what they appear to be.

  • Bree
    2019-04-23 07:00

    Somewhat Interesting, but filled with a ton of British nursery rhymes I'd never heard of before. Also the author makes it clear that there is no way to know for sure the meaning of any of these rhymes - he just gives possibilities and tells you which is his favorite.