A Knife and a Fork and a Bottle and a Cork...
That’s How You Spell New York
Howard Schrager; Illustrated by Sarah Madsen
As a child, the author’s father taught him a couple of 1920s street rhymes based on American geography. Years later, after fifteen years as a Waldorf School teacher, Schrager decided to write a book with a Riddle Rhyme for each of the 50 states. One of those first Riddle Rhymes became the title of this book.
Rhymes such as these were part of children’s culture for hundreds of years. Because Riddle Rhymes are poetic, children repeat them subconsciously. This stimulates areas of their minds which childhood culture has always done for them, coming at a time when the young minds’ artistic centers are becoming less valued because our culture overvalues more abstract kinds of learning.
With their active rhythmic quality, Riddle Rhymes require listening, and even more, careful hearing. With Riddle Rhymes you already know the answer, but you don’t know which answer it is. You must hear the name of the state arise from the verse, and solve the riddle. The author’s job is to lead you and to mislead you at the same time. All the sounds of the verse do not have to do with the name of the state. Some are there to throw you off track, others just to make the verse sound better. Rhythm and meter also help to solve the riddle.
Riddle Rhymes stimulate interest in actual spelling, and in geography too. Thus they can find a welcome place in the classroom –– as a reward, as an enrichment, and as valuable lesson material. Because they are focused on geography, they also make a fine travel activity. They are not just for kids either –– they’re great around a campfire or as an icebreaker at social gatherings. With adults, Riddle Rhymes help unleash the playful active child’s mind that resonates in all of us. Artist Sarah Madsen’s illustrations add an imaginative, often humorous dimension to these geographic word puzzles.Not only are the answers found (discreetly) in the back matter of the book, but also an alphabetical list of the 50 states, their capitals, and a short explanation of the origin of each states name. Plus tips on learning U.S. geography and one fascinating fact per state. Did you know that Alaska has more miles of coastline than all the other states together? Or that Colorado contains 75% of the land area in the U.S. above 10,000 feet. Most of all, Riddle Rhymes are both fun and educational. Give them a try!
72 pages, 7" x 8.5", full-color cover, 51 illustrations, 2010.
Published by LemonTree Press.
ISBN 978-0-9644846-3-4. Trade paper