Author: June Factor
First Published: 1990

This is the second in a series of five books in which June Factor (an Australian author and poet) collected and published schoolyard rhymes from around Australia.

For linguists, anthropologists and other such people, this series of books is a valuable record; a snapshot of the language, concerns and mores of Australian children in the 1980s and 1990s.

Do you remember your schoolyard rhymes? The chants you shouted at the athletics carnival, or the songs you sang in time with the skipping rope? They were nonsense, of course, but where did they come from? Where did they go? What did they mean? We have records of former generations (cleaned up no doubt) in the Mother Goose nursery rhymes, and sometimes you come across a stray rhyme here or there in another book, or song, or TV show. Factor's series is a very important cultural record that will hopefully be revisited by future generations of academics.

But that doesn't explain why every primary school in Australia had kids lining up to borrow them from the library every lunchtime. No, that would be because these were the funniest, silliest, naughtiest books you ever read. Some of the rhymes were familiar, and it was fascinating to see how they varied slightly from the version current at your school. Others were new and radically funny. Every kid in the country had a favourite.

Captain Cook
Chased a chook
Right around Australia
Lost his pants
In the middle of France
And found them in Tasmania.


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