Father Fox's Pennyrhymes

For those who like a bit of dark humor, but gently done, and in small doses, leavened by much old-fashined fun, there is Father Fox's Pennyrhymes, by Clayde Watson, illustrated by Wendy Watson (1971). It's kind of a twisted mother goose enacted by dressed-up rural Vermont foxes, who give voice to many snarky, humoerous, and even sweet asides in the pictures (so I can't really do it justice).

Here's an example of one of the "darker" rhymes:

Little Martha piggy-wig
Run away and dance a jig!
If you weren't so fat and sweet
You wouldn't be so good to eat.

The picture shows little Martha, the only pig on the fox-covered playground, jumproping for dear life (literally).

Poking around on line, I see that I am not make a new and earthshaking discovery here. Oh well. It just got a huge blast of publicity back in January,here at Read Roger, and Sam Riddleburger looked at it in some detail last September here, and doubtless there are many others. But I am the first, as far as I know, to feature little Martha.

I shall eagerly look for Father Fox's Christmas Rhymes when it becomes seasonally appropriate to do so.

The Poetry Friday round up is at Kelly Fineman's place (Writing and Ruminating) today!


  1. Yes the pig/fox relationship is really strange in these stories.

    I can't recall if I've said this online before but...
    Why do they say,
    "The pigs are out?" in Knickerbocker, Knockabout?
    Are the pigs normally locked up somewhere, while the foxes live free?

    I don't have the book handy, but what is the fox family eating in the feast scene? PORK?
    By the way, you can live in the Fox world yourself:
    Yes, it's the Watson family cottage! For rent!

  2. I've not seen the book or its poems before, but I love the dark Martha poem you shared.


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