Fox and geese

Leo is learning to play Song of the Wind on his 1/8 size violin.  I like this folk song, and not only because it's not Twinkle or one of its endless variations.  Leo likes it, too.  Then his teacher (Miss Sarah) suggested that he sing along as he plays.  We didn't know the words (they're not in the Suzuki Violin School book we're using), so she sang them to us:

  • Fox you chased the goose last night
  • You picked the fattest one (picked the fattest one)
  • Now I'm going to hunt you down and get you with my gun, gun, gun
  • Now I'm going to hunt you down and get you with my gun.

Leo, who as you'll come to know is a sensitive little guy, and I must have been visibly shocked, because Miss Sarah suggested we make up our own words.  This is what we came up with:

  • Then it pecked you on the nose and made you want to run, run run
  • Then it pecked you on the nose and made you want to run.

Much better.  Anyway, the episode reminded me of this book:  The Fox Went Out on a Chilly Night: An Old Song Illustrated by Peter Spier (Random House, 1961; it won a Caldecott Honor).  I first read it, appropriately enough, on a chilly night in New England, at my in-laws' house in Bristol, RI.  I wasn't familiar with the song (recorded by Burl Ives in 1945), but I loved Spier's lighthearted pen-and-ink (and watercolor, on alternate double page spreads) illustrations: detailed, historically accurate, funny (see the expression on the face of the terrified goose).  This is what autumn should look like.

I haven't read it to the kids on any of our visits to RI, thinking that Leo, unlike the fox, might mind the "quack-quack-quack, and the legs all dangling down-o."  I just noticed that the goose (and the duck) join the fox family in a sing-along at the end of the book, though; maybe we'll gather around the piano ourselves and sing it together tomorrow.  After we eat our turkey, of course.  Happy Thanksgiving!  Gobble, gobble, gobble.


[The Fox was also recorded by Pete Seeger on his collection of animal folk songs Birds, Beasts, Bugs and Fishes (Smithsonian Folkways).  We love folk songs; I'll have to check this one out.]