Nursery Rhyme Novels

Not sure if this has been discussed but I find it fascinating that Christie used these Nursery Rhymes and use them in her books. What is your favourite and what don't you think work so well? 


  • I'll start by listing them: A pocket full of Rye, Crooked house, Five little pigs, Hickory Dickory Dock, One, two, buckle my shoe, Three blind mice. If I missed any, please add them!

     Basically I'd divide them into two groups: one, where the story follows the rhyme step by step or character by character (A pocket full of Rye, Five little pigs, One, two, buckle my shoe) and the other where the general idea of the rhyme is used (Crooked house, Three blind mice). I'm not sure where Hickory fits - it's one of my less favourite stories. Of the first group Five little pigs is my favourite - matching the suspects to the pigs in the rhyme works well. "Rye" I liked less - I prefered the Joan Hickson movie to the book. One, two, buckle my shoe seemed rather forced to me - though I liked the last motto - "My plate is empty" fit the final denounement.

    Of the second group, I really like Crooked house, but three blind mice is also riveting.
  • How interesting, I've often found that it was one of Christie's strengths to apply these rhymes which are so innocent into a murder mystery novel. I don't think I have read one as yet, but I have seen the adaptations especially the Suchet and Hickson Poirot and Marple's and it is interesting that you found the adaptation of Pocket Full of Rye better than the book. I have heard not positive reviews about One Two Buckle My Shoe, as you say, taliavishay-arbel said:
    One, two, buckle my shoe seemed rather forced to me

  • I have just remembered the short story, Sing a Song of Sixpence which is a stand alone which is in the Listerdale Mystery and Witness of the prosecution and other stories. 
  • I really liked One, Two, Buckle My Shoe. The clues were clever and I thought the ending was powerful. It is one of my favorite of Christie's novels where political/social commentary takes center stage because the political subplot advances and enriches the main mystery plot rather than derailing it.

    Caution, Spoilers: I like the cast of characters in A Pocket Full of Rye. They were an interesting group, especially Miss Ramsbottom, Lancelot, and Mary Dove. I love how Miss Marple is weaved into the novel (especially how the police just let her into the house because they assume she is a member of the family). I also like the end twist with Mary Dove.  

    When I saw The Mousetrap on stage, it made excellent use of the nursery rhyme to create an eerie atmosphere of danger that was riveting to watch.

    Five Little Pigs is a very well written tale. Again, a strong cast of characters. I like the powerful emotional undercurrent throughout the book.

    Crooked House was a mixed bag for me. I liked the ending and some of the characters, but the novel seemed a bit overlong (maybe because someone had already spoiled the solution).

    Hickory Dickory Dock is definitely the weakest of the nursery rhyme novels. Neither the plot nor the characters were particularly captivating (with a few notable exceptions). I think the movie adaptation was much stronger because it cut unnecessary characters and fleshed out the students, making them more interesting characters.
  • "Rye" I liked less - I prefered the Joan Hickson movie to the book. 
    I think the ending of the book, which was preserved in the McKenzie version of "Rye", was better than the car crash scene that we got in the Hickson version. There appears to be a lot of car crashes, car chases, and chases on foot in A.C. adaptations. Anyways, I like how "Rye", the book, ends on such an erupt note. 
  • Dr.SheppardDr.Sheppard Oxford, UK
    Can I add to the list:
    The Market Basing Mystery - 'The rabbit has a pleasant face ...' (Quoted in full by Hastings), 
    N or M? - 'Goosey Goosey Gander', 
    How Does Your Garden Grow? - Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary How does your garden grow, 
    Four and Twenty Blackbirds.

    Not necessary book titles, but novels where the nursery rhyme plays an important part, in solving the murder.

  • Of course, 'how does your garden grow' and 'four and twenty blackbirds' thank you Dr.Sheppard 
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