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book cover of The Smart Aleck\'s Guide to Naughty Playground Songs and Children\'s Folklore

The Smart Aleck's Guide to Naughty Playground Songs and Children's Folklore

A non fiction book by


"The Folk Process is how a song about making a violin out of a dead body evolves into a song about pooping one's overalls over the course of a few hundred years....the Smart Aleck Staff guides you through the history and evolution of dozens and dozens of playground songs and rhymes.

The staff who brought you the acclaimed SMART ALECK'S GUIDE TO AMERICAN HISTORY (Random House 2009) is back with a look at the history of the songs and jokes you repeated when the teacher wasn't around, from Miss Suzy and her steam boat to the numerous songs about killing teachers, eating underwear, and coming down with the case of diarrhea, with an additional look at the dirty jokes, ghost stories, pranks and customs that have been passed from kid to kid for generations. Tracing many songs back hundreds of years (while debunking myths about the "origins" of others) using data from their popular PLAYGROUND JUNGLE blog, the guide is fascinating, hilarious, and will bring back memories for everyone. Those jokes are older than you thought!

With their usual "brainy but lighthearted" approach, the Smart Aleck Staff's latest guide includes fascinating looks at the history and mythology surrounding "Miss Mary Mack," "Miss Suzy Had a Steamboat," "Me Chinese," "A Boy's Occupation," "Ring Around the Rosie" (which was not really about the plague, as is often claimed, but may have been about a prostitute), and dozens more, examining their variations, evolution, and origins in soldier slang, 18th century tavern songs and ancient folk ballads.

In addition to rhymes, songs, and jokes, the staff delves into customs like "Jinx," "Light as a Feather Stiff as a Board," and "Cooties," as well as a section on "wicked four square moves," with side trips along the way into the evolution of the word "poop," the various synonyms for "level" used by video game players in the '80s, and the history of fart jokes, plus the staff's usual "assignments" and "experiments to try at home." A fascinating history lesson, a wonderful resource for writers, and a great nostalgia trip for children of the 80s, though it' will surely bring back memories for anyone who ever spent any time at a school or camp.

This full-length (over 50,000 words) ebook contains an active table of contents, active internal links, and a handy active index of first lines, as well as an appendix full of original songs such as "Drink Your Juice (or You'll Get Scurvy)" and "Glumpy, The Elf Who Sawed His Leg Off." A wonderful resource for writers - or anyone who wants to be the hit of their next party.


"Speeding along on humor, Daily Show-style,... the irreverent, often laugh-out-loud approach should win over reluctant readers." - Publisher's Weekly

"In the style of acclaimed writers Jon Stewart (The Daily Show) and Stephen Colbert (The Colbert Report), this witty, comedic and appealing volume is sure to appeal" - School Library Journal

"Pretty darn entertaining... valuable lessons about info-literacy... will enlighten, entertain, and might well motivate students to go on to check out in-depth books" - Richie's Picks

"Wacky, irreverent... .Mark Twain would have loved it" - Florida Times Union

"This title makes history come alive by adding a little silliness and a lot of sarcasm and humor. Often witty and clever" - American Library Association


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Used availability for Members of the Smart Aleck Staff's The Smart Aleck's Guide to Naughty Playground Songs and Children's Folklore

Kindle Editions

September 2011 : USA, Canada, UK Kindle edition

Title: Smart Aleck's Guide to Naughty Playground Songs and Children's Folklore: How Long Have Kids Been Singing Songs About Poo?
Author(s): Adam Selzer, Members of the Smart Aleck Staff
Publisher: Open Etc
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA