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These stories are the products of folklore nearest to the people, and are in their colloquial language. They reflect the simple English humor which is not to be found to such a degree in the child literature of any other race. In this lies their value, as well as their charm. The language and the style are of a kind which is natural to the child, and his vocabulary and formation of sentences are unconsciously modeled upon them. It has been noticed that children in retelling their stories repeat these old English tales almost word for word, while they are more likely to change the style of those written by the skilled story-teller.
In each case the earliest version accessible has been consulted, and has been compared with later renderings. This has been made possible by access to the collection of folklore in the Harvard Library, which is probably the best in the country. The source usually preferred has been Halliwell's Popular Rhymes and Nursery Tales, published in 1849, many of whose versions were taken directly from oral tradition. The work has been done under the supervision of my mother,—author of the Stickney Readers, Bird World, Earth and Sky, etc., — who has also read the proof. The book will owe much of its charm to the happy interpretations of Mr. Copeland.
M. F. LANSING CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS
Ding, dong, bell,
, Pussy's in the well ! Who put her in? Little Tommy Lin.
. Who 'll pull her out? Little Johnny Stout. What a naughty boy was that To drown the poor, poor pussy-cat, Who never did him any harm, But killed the mice in his father's barn!
HEN Jacky 's a very good boy, He shall have cakes and a custard ; But when he does nothing but cry,
He shall have nothing but mustard.
GREAT A, little a,
Hickory, dickory, dock,