The People in the Playground

The People in the Playground

3.42 (21 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

The result of the author's field studies over two years in a school playground, this book records conversations and events, illustrating the games and jokes beloved by children. The book shows how school-lore evolves and is transmitted. Much human behaviour is recorded here - the differences in attitudes between the sexes; the boys' devotion to fighting and football, and their innate kindness; the art of story-telling; the friendships and enmities; the interest in sex; the diversity of characters; and the hilarity which creates entertainment out of trivialities. Gaining insight into the world of the child, the reader recognizes jokes of previous generations - at once a revelation and a reassurance of continuity.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 249 pages
  • 128 x 190 x 16mm | 240.4g
  • Oxford University Press
  • Oxford Paperbacks
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • New edition
  • New edition
  • 0192853015
  • 9780192853011

About Iona Opie

About the Author: Iona Opie edited and wrote many books with her late husband Peter Opie, including The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes, The Oxford Nursery Rhyme Book, The Lore and Language of Schoolchildren, and The Classic Fairy Tales.show more

Review Text

Down in the schoolyard, as Opie (The Classic Fairy Tales, 1974, etc.) presents her impressions of exuberant playground life during the English equivalent of recess. At first, the junior-school scene in the town of Liss that Opie observes once a week for a period of years seems "uncontrolled confusion," but gradually the author recognizes particular children, notes subtle patterns of play, and witnesses the ongoing exchange of ideas. Weather, she reports, matters less than playground geography or street activities (workmen of any kind always warrant attention), and gender signifies as well: Boys are more reckless, willing to fight or cry, while girls more often jump rope cooperatively or use conversation as a social activity. Fads come and go, structured games are few and far between, and disputation is "the very spice of juvenile life." Jokes, especially dirty ones, are a frequent source of shared enjoyment, even when not fully understood, and are generally told with little self-consciousness or regard for others' sensitivities (in this group, Irish jokes resemble moron or Polish jokes). Opie's anecdotal re-creation will remind readers of their own past - solitary children who hug the wall or pull up their socks; participants in fragile fantasies or spur-of-the-moment games; girls whispering intimacies; those who don't know what to do next but don't care; the sudden return to straight lines and formal deportment. Unlike the 1992 reissue of Opie's I Saw Esau, written with her late husband, Peter, this has no colorful Maurice Sendak illustrations interpreting the scene - but the text is nonetheless appealing for its heartening picture of children at play. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Rating details

21 ratings
3.42 out of 5 stars
5 14% (3)
4 33% (7)
3 33% (7)
2 19% (4)
1 0% (0)
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