Scots Children's Songs and Rhymes
by Ewan McVicar
Birlinn, pp.344, softback, £14.99. ISBN 13: 978 1 84158 558 1
William Wordsworth once quoted in a poem ‘Nothing can ever recall the splendour of the grass’. But that is exactly what Ewan McVicar does in his latest book of children's rhymes and street songs Doh Ray Me When Ah Wis Wee.
On just looking at the title of the book I was immediately transported to my own childhood days in Aberdeen when all the children sang these songs; I knew it as ‘Doh ray me when I wis wee, I used tae peel the tatties. But noo I'm big and eat like a pig, so aabody caws me fatty’.
All the verses in Ewan McVicar’s book are very different from the ones I sing, yet they are all interconnected to each other showing the great variety of different towns' and cities' cultures. Even in my own Traveller background we used to sing many variations of these special songs and ditties.
I have had the pleasure of knowing Ewan McVicar and he is a complete gentleman of the folk culture. He shares his great love of the Scottish culture freely, and he is a very knowledgeable man and speaks with great clarity and authority. When you are in conversation with this great scholar in folklore you leave wiser than you came in - because I have been the sharer of this man's wealth of lore.
Ewan has studied very well and has done his background work, because every item in the book is classified and the source from whom he received it is acknowledged. There are hundreds of examples of rhymes and jingles. Some of them date back to the days of yore. There are three hundred and forty four pages, but the book is a pleasure and a breeze to read. It only took me a couple of hours to read and absorb, but it would make a wonderful edition to anyone's library and it is a must for schools.
Furthermore it would make a perfect Christmas present to anyone with a family of children because it could be read around the fireside on cold Winter nights bringing the family in close harmony and strengthening the bonds of parental guardianship.
This book, published by Birlinn, is on sale for £14. 99 and it is well worth the price; it is a bargain for such an tremendous source of Scottish folklore.
Stanley Robertson - 30.11.07
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