burro's turf painting by dj geribo
"Burro's Turf" painting by DJ Geribo

I Saw Esau, edited by Iona & Peter Opie, Illustrated by Maurice Sendak was a great find. Every year we attend a fair that has tents set up that are full of great deals on books, linens, clothes, white elephant items, jewelry, frames, furniture, and a variety of other items. Of course, I always visit the book tent and always find several books to purchase (it is a fundraiser, after all, so I feel good about helping and I get my book fix satisfied).

 When I came upon this book, I knew that first of all, it was a quality book by the cover and heavy weight of the pages. I was not familiar with the Opies but when I saw that Maurice Sendak did the illustrations, I had to check it out. I was impressed, as always, by Sendak's illustrations and the book was full of them.
The book is an anthology of childhood chants dating back to the 17 and 1800's (and many, it was noted, before those dates). I remembered several of these riddles, nonsense sentences, rhymes, and other poems from my childhood. It was interesting to read the original works and note how it had changed over the years. Many of them were written for what was true at the time and so much is different now from what it was in the mid-1800's.

It was a plus to have notes at the back of the book that told the history of many of the sayings. I had to go back and re-read each one that had a note so I could then appreciate it with this new information.

 Little books like this are important to keep and restore when needed. It tells future generations a lot about the children of the times, the games they played, and the types of activities that they found amusing. This is all part of our history and something we should never forget.

I rate I Saw Esau 5 out of 5 stars *****

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