April 17, 2020

Q is for Queen

        (My theme for this year’s A to Z Blog Challenge is traditional English language nursery rhymes, and their block printed illustrations.)

The Queen of Hearts
She made some tarts,
All on a summer’s day.
The Knave of Hearts
He stole those tarts,
And took them clean away.
The King of Hearts
Called for the tarts,
And beat the knave full sore.
The Knave of Hearts
Brought back the tarts,
And vowed he’d steal no more.

        Scandal at court!
        Unlike some nursery rhymes, this one has a full plot and plenty of scope for a variety of different illustrations of various points in the story.  Some illustrators have fun showing the Queen, dressed all in her royal finery complete with crown, working in the kitchen - an idea that probably struck people as particularly funny in the days of more extreme social distinctions.  Today’s second illustration, by Walter Crane, is of that type.
        Some illustrators focus on the Knave’s theft, including the first illustration above, and the third.  I particularly like how the third one models the knave so closely on the playing card.  That’s another area in which illustrators have a decision to make: whether to imagine these characters as playing cards or not.  Lewis Carroll and his illustrator Tenniel most famously did, but others go with other designs.  It is true that this rhyme actually was originally inspired by cards, as the poem was first published with a verse for each of the other suits, as well, although those verses never became popular and haven’t stuck around.
        And finally, we have an illustrator who has chosen to depict the King threatening to beat the Knave (with a sword!  Yikes!), and the Knave returning the tarts.  The Queen looks on from the background with an expression that says “Serves him right!”
        Do you ever bake pastry?  What’s your favorite kind to make?  Or to eat?
        A final note for impressionable children: Don’t steal tarts!

[Pictures: Detail from Nursery Rhymes, wood engraving by Gwenda Morgan, 1970 (Image from Kevis House);
Color wood block print by Walter Crane from Baby’s Own Alphabet, printed by Edmund Evans, c 1874 (Image from Internet Archive);
Wood block print from Mother Goose’s Nursery Rhymes, published by Allen Brothers, 1869 (Image from International Children’s Digital Library);
Wood block print from Songs for the Nursery, published by Darton & Co, 1851 (Image from Opie, The Oxford Nursery Rhyme Book).]


Kathe W. said...

I always loved the illustrations in Lewis Carroll's books! The Queen of Hearts was heartless! Cheers! See you tomorrow.

Sue Bursztynski said...

Delightful illustrations! I always love anything by Walter Crane, too.

I think the card theme works well. In Alice In Wonderland, the theme is definitely cards, while Through The Looking Glass is about chess.
Tenniel’s art is perfect for the books he illustrated.

Keith's Ramblings said...

I bake tarts and if anyone dared to try stealing one they would be in real trouble!

Shari Elder said...

I bake muffins and quick breads. Not very daring, but i fits in my schedule. This gives me a renewed interest (and curiosity) around playing cards (and their history). :). A good thing to do while housebound.

A Tarkabarka Hölgy said...

I like the idea of a queen baking in full royal finery. It is a very quarantine thing to do.

The Multicolored Diary

Kristin said...

I make apple and sweet potato pies on occasion. I cannot imagine a queen in the kitchen making tarts, although I like that illustratio.

Deborah Weber said...

I like the image of the knave stealing the entire tray of tarts. When it comes to pastries I say go big. I do a fair amount of baking, but tarts aren't really my think, although I once made "hand pies" in the shape of hands filled with jam.

Anne E.G. Nydam said...

Good one, Kathe. =)

Zalka, that would be a great quarantine activity: formal dinner at home dressed in all our finery. My kids will be missing their fancy prom dance; maybe we should get dressed up anyway. (It would be a hard sell for me son, though, I think.)

Kristin, are the sweet potato pies sweet like pumpkin, or more savory? I love apple.

Deborah, hand pies sound very fun.

I never make my own crust, but we sometimes make apple or peach pies with ready-made crusts. I mostly make banana bread, brownies, and sometimes cinnamon sticky buns, and birthdays always get chocolate cake.

Jade Li said...

I learned something new today about the rhyme being connected with cards. All of the illustrations are good. My favorite thing to make from scratch are croissants. Sourdough bread is also a favorite to make.

Ronel Janse van Vuuren said...

I totally get wanting to beat the thief with a sword -- some pastries take hours to finish! (Yes, I bake.)

An A-Z of Faerie: Banshee