Children's writing

A Day in the Office

On days when it’s hard to appreciate a writer’s paycheck, it’s nice to appreciate a writer’s work environment.

rhyming-dictionary.jpgThe book is The Complete Rhyming Dictionary, by Clement Wood. This is one of my favorite books. You might be surprised at how often I use it–writing verse, crafting puzzles, determining correct pronunciation of words, and misc. odd jobs.

The book tells me that this verse does not, in fact, rhyme:

Old Mother Goose when
She wanted to wander,
Would ride through the air
On a very fine gander.

“Wander” rhymes with squander, fonder, and ponder. “Gander” rhymes with candor, bystander, and salamander. Mother Goose rhymes drove me wonky when I was a kid. I wanted them to rhyme–I thought they were supposed to–and it made me feel stupid when I couldn’t get them to work. Clearly, I was missing something, but what?!

Nowadays, armed with this book, I can fix Mother Goose.

Old Mother Goose when
She wanted to wander,
Would ride through the air…
And take your non-rhyming verses with you, you absconder!

Yep, I fixed her all right. Apparently, Mother Goose snuck into the publishing world before editors’ No Near Rhymes rule was established.

Using the book is sometimes puzzle-y. Forget spelling, the listings are phonetic (as they must be). For instance, in looking up “wander” just now, I went to the “ON-dur” listing. “Gander” was, of course, under the “AN-dur” listing. Sometimes it can be a challenge to locate the right phonetic listing for a word.

There are rhyme resources on the Web, of course, but I was in the habit of using this book before I was in the habit of using the Web, and, anyway, it’s hard to see the screen on the laptop when it’s this sunny out.


I located the polarizer for this camera last fall. Anyone know what I did with it? This view looks several hundred times better seen through the naked eye.

I’m having a terrific, wonderful, way-fun, very good time with today’s rhyming project.

Categories: Children's writing

6 replies »

  1. Here’s what I seem to remember from high school regarding rhyming in poetry: gander and wander are “eye rhymes”, which, while not auditory rhymes, are a legitimate form of rhyming. To add to that, much of older poetry contains eye rhymes, which when written were actually auditory rhymes as well…the pronunciation has changed over the years. Shakespearean sonnets are a good example of that.

    So maybe Mother Goose was a better rhymer than you think! Since I don’t know any editors’ rules firsthand, I never knew there was a No Near Rhymes rule.

  2. Was that Mrs. Starita or Mr. Caffey?

    I’m much more tolerant of Shakespeare than Mother Goose, probably because my frustration with Mother Goose already ran deep by the time we hit high school.

  3. I often wrestled with the rhymes of Mother Goose. The interesting thing is that they, at least supposedly, were not originally written, but were part of an oral tradition- so where do the eye rhymes come from? Indeed, pronunciation has changed over the years, as has spelling. Might the words have been “wender” and “gender” (hard G of course). Wander probably comes from wend and I’ve heard gander pronounced “gender” in the Scottish Highlands.

  4. Interesting, Becca. There must be critical papers written on Mother Goose rhymes. I think I’ll see what I can find. This discussion as piqued my curiosity.

  5. There is a book (probably out of print) by William S. and Ceil Baring-Gould called The Annotated Mother Goose. It is really interesting-(did I ever mention my first degree was in history?) The “Old Mother Goose” rhyme isn’t even in it. I think it was written as the intro to a collection of rhymes. So the “eye rhyme” may still be the answer.