Inspiration From The Distant Past

Inspiration From The Distant Past
Found note in an old book... warms the cockles of my bookish heart...

Thursday, March 24, 2011

That Black Sheep and Where is the Green Sheep

I have written about Where is the Green Sheep before, but I'd like to revisit it. Because there's something in our national news and something in Lesa's recent posts that remind me of the book. And, I like it and Lesa said I could write about whatever I like. So...

Has the 'Baa Baa Black Sheep' debate been reported in the US media like it has in the Aussie? Some nursery schools are changing the lyrics because of (IMHO) an over-wrought sense of political correctness. Rumour has it that the rhyme alludes to the slave trade, and some people are taking matters into their own hands by changing the words to a childhood classic. Our Black Sheep becomes a Rainbow sheep in the new version.

Wikipedia (the oracle of all truth) dismisses the assertion that 'Baa Baa Black Sheep' has anything to do with that nefarious time in history, which makes any debate seem ridiculous.

Aussie author Mem Fox created a classic when she wrote Where is the Green Sheep. It's repetitive and it rhymes, which Lesa says is great for children. It's also simple and funny, with all different kinds of sheep; a plethora of multicultural sheep. There's Train Sheep, Music Sheep, Brave Sheep and Near Sheep. Surely no-one will be offended by the Near Sheep, especially when she gets equal billing with the Far Sheep.

Look, there's even a bi-lingual version for all our bi-lingual bloggy families!

So, don't sing an old-fashioned nursery rhyme to your kids: read Where is the Green Sheep, and you'll be safe from the PC Police.

Linking to the Picture Book Challenge
hosted by There's a Book.


  1. +JMJ+

    I suppose it was only a matter of time before the PC police went for nursery rhymes. The last I heard, "black hole" is a racist term and astrophysicists shouldn't be allowed to use it. (Sigh!)

    What are nursery schools in Australia changing the lyrics to, DeLynne?

  2. The movement started in the UK (any British readers want to comment?), and being good colonists we have followed. Some Aussie children are singing about rainbow sheep, but I think most parents are sticking with the old version.

    ...and let's not even get into what 'rainbow' means to many...

    Quote--'BLACK sheep are on the endangered species list as some children in north Queensland learn to sing Baa Baa Rainbow Sheep.'

    Read more:

  3. I have not heard the controversy here. But that doesn't mean it isn't here. I don't believe that particular rhyme is very popular/well known...a lot of people have no idea who Miss Muffet is (I call Nina that and they wonder where it came from!).

    But if I ever have any questions, I ask my African American friends if they would be offended...usually they have no idea of any controversy either, and if they do, they think it is silly. So that's who I go by.

    If the origins are true..yes, I could see it being offensive, but I hope people are sure of their facts before they make gets difficult to take something seriously if statements are made that aren't true.

    I hope I made sense!

  4. +JMJ+

    "Baa Baa Rainbow Sheep" doesn't even scan well! =(

    I think it would be better to stop singing the song altogether than to change the lyrics and pretend that it doesn't mean what some people believe it means.

    Hmmmm. This is kind of related to the Huckleberry Finn controversy from a few months back!

  5. Nope, never heard of this but it is pretty silly. Nutty overly PC people rile me, I will continue to say the original. This reminds me of a picture book we have based on this rhyme guess it better feature in a picture book challenge post. Hope it gives the PC poopheads a conniption. ;o)

  6. Oh yes, the Green Sheep book sounds great-- another for my therapy wishlist.

    And I've always said the nursery rhyme: Yes sir, Yes sir, three bags full.

    Which way did ya'll learn it?

  7. I adore Green Sheep, way over here in Texas in the US. Makes me so happy that there is now an Oveja Verde for all my friends who know Espanol.

    Thank you for sharing this.


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