There Was an Old Lady Who Lived in A Shoe, But She is Fine & Her Kids Are, Too

Hi Folks! When not busy blogging here (and lecturing, and writing non-blogs), I run a humor contest in the magazine The Week. My question is usually a wacky twist on something in the news and last week I was fed up with that pre-school TV show in England that had tinkered with the ending of Humpty Dumpty. Remember? Worried, I think, that their little viewers could not handle the shock and horror of Humpty’s actual fate, the show changed the ending to, “All the kings horses and all the kings men/Made Humpty happy again.”

So my Week contest asked readers to come up with another nursery rhyme with a new ending suited for today’s supersensitive, easily traumatized kids. Here are the fantastic results, below. If you want to see more contests from The Week, click here and then keep clicking, “For the results of last week’s contest” when you get there. My contest has been running for almost a year, so there’s a lot of fun packed in there!  Have safe, educational fun! — Lenore


Little Miss Muffet sat on a tuffet, eating her lightly baked fish.
Along came a spider, who sat down beside her, and said, “What a heart healthy dish!”
Robyn Sharretts, Danville, PA

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe
She had so many children, she didn’t know what to do
She asked a producer, who was in the know
“If I have octuplets, can I get a show?”
Lianne Kuboi, Honolulu

There was a little girl who had a little curl
Right in the middle of her forehead.
And when she was good, she was very, very good.
And when she was bad, she had her iPhone taken away from her.
Mary Walker, Ocean City, NJ


Little Jack Horner sat in a corner
Eating a non-denominational winter-holiday pie
He stuck in his thumb and pulled out a plum,
And said, “I have an unhealthy relationship with food that causes my obesity.”
Bill Muse, Seattle

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe
But faced foreclosure, didn’t know what to do
She appealed to her banker to lend her a hand
Now she sleeps on a flip flop out in the sand.
David Sorenson, Green Bay, WI

Diddle diddle dumpling, my son John
Went to bed with his britches on
One shoe off and one shoe on
That’s why she divorced you, John
Helen Kontis, Fort Lauderdale

three men who can’t marry each other in a tub.
Cathy Curtis, Finksburg, MD

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe.
In this mortgage market, you probably will, too.
Michael Plittman, Pittsburgh

Jack Sprat could eat no fat
His wife would eat no sweet
When they added a pilates class
Their bods were hard to beat.
Bobby Schackow, Gainesville, FL

Little Miss Muffet sat on her tuffet, eating her curds and whey.
Along came a spider who sat down beside her and discussed his lactose intolerance all day.
Pattie Vespereny, St. Louis, MO

Little Miss Muffet sat on her tuffet, drinking her soy-based whey.
Along came a spider who sat down beside her and said, “Hey, did you get my latte?”
Marion Law, San Diego

Little Miss Muffet sat on her tuffet, eating her curds and whey.
Along came a spider who sat down beside her and asked if she’d had a nice day.
Adrienne Hochee, Mountain Center, CA (and others, similar)

This little piggy went to the doctor
This little piggy stayed home
This first piggy got H1N1
The other little piggy got none
Now all the little piggies cry, “We…we…we don’t know what to do!” all the way home.
Peter Savigny, White Plains, NY

Three blind mice, see how they run!
They all ran after the farmer’s wife
Who’s practiced opthamology all of her life
She restored their sight with a laser knife
Three vision-corrected mice
Nancy House, Nashville

There was an attractive, middle-aged woman who lived in a condo with a view
She had a fulfilling career and 2.1 children, too
She cooked them organic meals and homemade bread
She was their best friend, n’er a harsh word said.
Danielle Tallman, Litchfield Park, AZ

Tom, Tom, the piper’s son
Stole a pig and away did run
His lawyer could offer no defense
For this was poor Tom’s third offense.
Lois A. Dorschel, Hawthorne, NV

Rock-a-bye baby, on the tree top
When the wind blows, the cradle will rock
When the bough breaks, the cradle rips free
But baby is perfect and wins a tro-phy.
Daisy Michael, Westminster, MD

Little Bo Peep has lost her sheep
And can’t tell where to find them.
Leave them alone and they’ll come home
With their GPS to guide them!
Gail Noren, Fayetteville, GA

Old Mother Hubbard went to the cupboard
To fetch her poor dog a bone
When she got there, the cupboard was bare
So they ordered a pizza by phone.
Gene Hosey, Mechanicsburg, PA

It’s raining, it’s pouring, TV’s getting boring
The satellite’s gone, HBO is done and we can’t TiVo till morning.
Norma Herrera, North Bay Ridge, FL

Ladybug, ladybug, fly away home!
Your house is paid off and your children are grown!
Mary Holz, Nipomo, CA

Jack be cautious, Jack slow down
Jack walk ’round the candle in your flame retardant gown.
Vicki Brownell, Blairstown, NJ

I’m a little hedge fund, short and stout
Here is a sure bet, do not doubt
When I get in trouble, hear me shout,
“Tip me over and bail me out!”
Marv Toyer, Carlsbad, CA

Georgie Porgie, pudding and pie
Kissed the girls and made them cry
Until one spoke to Georgie’s mom.
Then he was grounded and missed his prom.
Miles, Judith, David and Valerie Klein, Frisco, TX

Jack and Jill went up the hill
To fetch a pail of water
Jack fell down and sued the town
Jill installed plumbing thereafter.
Roberta Rathbun, Goleta, CA

Jack and Jill went up the hill
To fetch a pail of water
Jack sat down and looked around
Jill texted, “c u L8r!”
Julie Pilat, Los Angeles

Jack and Jill went up the hill
To fetch a pail of water
From that day on they had it done
By one who’d crossed the border.
Tom Sheppard, Flat Rock, NC

…Jack fell down and broke his crown
And Jill sought pre-treatment approval from an in-network provider
Then carefully and safely walked down the hill,
As their policy limit was one such lifetime occurrence.
Warren Scrivani, Raleigh, NC

….Jack fell down and broke his crown.
But Jill stood by him during the press conference.
Ramon Presson, Franklin, TN

38 Responses

  1. these.are.hilarious.

  2. Don’t get that mag around here, but one of my longtime favorites is
    Hickory Dickory Dock,
    Two mice ran up the clock.
    The clock struck one,
    But the other got away.

  3. i’m a little teapot
    who was thrown out
    i won’t get a job
    you have to help me out

    you work all day
    your children pout
    i get part of your check
    because i’m a lazy lout.
    there was an old woman who lived in a shoe
    she had so many kids, but she knew what to do.
    she called hollywood and gave them a line.
    they pay her $60K an episode, now she’s doing just fine.
    girl: goosey, goosey, gander,
    where dost thou wander?

  4. My niece and godson like the slightly different lyrics to a cartoon I made:
    Little Miss Toughness
    Sat on her duff it
    Passing the time of day
    Along came a spider
    and sat down beside her
    Hey! get out of the whey!
    Some of the details in the original didn’t show up when put inline.

  5. My nine-year-old daughter wrote this for you:

    Jack and Jill went up the hill
    To fetch a pail of water
    Jack fell down and broke his phone
    So Jill couldn’t text him no longer.


  6. I try not to post comments if I have nothing to add, but these are FANTASTIC! Ok. I have nothing further to add.

  7. Oh I needed that giggle.

    Thank you!

  8. I’m afraid my sons were raised on Roald Dahl’s nursery rhymes in which Aunts were eaten by ant-eaters, little red riding hood viciously killed the wolf etc.

    But some of my favourite ‘twisted’ nursery rhymes are”
    (Feminist) Little miss muffet ….
    …. along came a spider who sat down beside her
    and she said “wrack off hariy legs”

    Little jack horner sat in his corner eating his christmas pie,
    put in his thumb and pulled out a plum
    and said, “I’ve got a plum on my thumb.”

  9. PS and then there is the rhyme that can only really be said with actions:
    (Hold both elbows out hands on waist and sing):
    I’m a little teapot short and stout
    (looking) Here is my handle
    (looking the other way) here is my ………
    Uh oh, I’m a little sugar bowl.

  10. Bah, bah, black sheep,
    Have you any wool?
    Yes, marry, have I,
    Three bags full:
    One for my master,
    One for my dame,
    But none for the little boy
    Who cries in the lane.

    -Original Volland edition ‘Mother Goose’
    ISBN 0-517-43619-1

  11. And while we’re at it–A long time ago, I was taught the ABC song to end:

    Now I know my ABC’s,
    Tell me what you think of me.


  12. Love the “flip flop on the sand” line! These were a lot of fun!

  13. Rub-a-dub-dub,
    three men who can’t marry each other in a tub.
    Cathy Curtis, Finksburg, MD

    thats hilarius

  14. Those are great!!

  15. Hysterical! I think Brain,child magazine needs to get a hold of your contest column. It’d be perfect for them.

  16. Georgie Porgie, pudding and pie
    Kissed the girls and made them cry
    Now Georgie can’t come out to play.
    He’s locked up in juvie for 45 days!

  17. Jack be nimble, Jack be quick.
    Jack remember to use the safe flameless candle and NEVER jump in the house.

  18. Taffy was a person of ethnicity
    Taffy was economically disadvantaged.
    Taffy came to my house and availed himself of the common property of humanity in the form of my favorite silken tofu.

    I went to Taffy’s house
    Taffy was surfing the Net.
    I handed him a card and put him in touch with a good counselor.

  19. Jack and Jill went up the hill to replenish their Nalgene free water bottles.
    They walked carefully in single file, held on to the handrails recently installed by the community, stayed close to their nanny, and returned safe.

  20. These just aren’t as FUN this way, dangit! But at least they’re SAFE!

  21. Sing a song of Euros* a sealed container of rye,
    Four and twenty blackbirds free to roam the sky
    When I gave them birdseed the birds began to sing,
    Meanwhile I cooked veggies and fruit to serve a healthy king!

    *We can’t expect the poor dears to know about something so outdated and culturally limited as sixpence, can we?

  22. LOL Lemontree! That is excellent.

  23. Excellent stuff, everyone!

  24. What’s worse, in many church Sunday Schools, the Bible stories are edited or omitted because they are no longer considered suitable for children. Sweet and Boring.

  25. When I was going to St. Ives
    I met a man with seven wives.
    I ran away yelling, “You’re not my Daddy!”

    Even Simple Simon, of course, knew better than to strike up the conversation with the pieman, so we can’t do that one.

    Humpty Dumpty sat on the CPSC approved bench.
    Then he carefully got up.

    And can you imagine the Tale of Peter Rabbit rewritten to avoid all the scary parts and make sure Peter sets a good and safe example?

  26. Oh, and in light of yesterday’s post:

    Little Bo Peep has lost her sheep and can’t tell where to find them.
    The angry ewes came to shout abuse
    And insisted a new shepherdess be hired.

  27. “Georgie Porgie, pudding and pie,
    Kissed the girls and made them cry.
    He got ninety days for the girls he kissed,
    And now he’s on the sex offender list.”

  28. Sarah, I was going to say if you think what they do to traditional nursery rhymes is bad, you should see what they do to Bible stories…but you beat me to it. The thing is, if they didn’t “sanatize” the stories, I think kids would be a lot more interested. My daughter is always most fascinated with the darker tales from the Bible.

  29. LOL. Hilarious. Especially, Lemontree’s.

  30. […] 18, 2009 Posted by leslie in Ramblings. trackback I have lots of things in my feedreader, and this article popped up today. The “sanitized” nursery rhymes for the contest are pretty […]

  31. Ironically, my daughter just brought home the nursery rhyme she is currently learning in Kindergarten – The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe. Guess what it says instead of “She whipped them all soundly and sent them to bed?”

    “She kissed them all sweetly and sent them to bed.”

  32. Jesus loves the little weirdos
    All the weirdos of the world
    Orange and Purple, Pink and Green
    Stranges kids you’ve ever seen
    Jesus loves the little weirdos of the world:-)

    *note – is weirdos offensive these days? I hope not… It seems to me that weird is normal anyways:-)

  33. xD These nursery rhymes remind me of the time when I was in second grade and the sixth graders put on a puppet show for the kids in the lower grades. All the fairy tales and rhymes were updated and made PC, and no violence or death allowed to be mentioned. I came home from school and told my mom how stupid the show was as their version of Snow White was a whacked out 80’s version with break dancing and rap. Snow White just fell asleep ( her stepmother put sleeping powder in the apple), then Prince Charming woke her up by turning up his boom box real loud and break dancing in front of her bed.

  34. “Three blind mice, see how they run!
    They all ran after the farmer’s wife
    Who’s practiced opthamology all of her life
    She restored their sight with a laser knife
    Three vision-corrected mice”

    My favorite. 🙂

  35. Back in the 1960’s, when my daughters were of nursery-rhyme-listening age, I updated “Humpty Dumpty” to reflect modern adhesive technology:

    >All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
    Used epoxy resin to put him together again.

  36. What a great idea for a contest! Great responses too! I love the last one by theerin.

  37. Oh, crap…someone already beat me to the sex offender registry crack about Georgie Porgie.

    LOVE THESE!!! :o)

  38. These are all great! I love Pentamom’s take on Humpty Dumpty and Jack and Jill.

    How about this one:

    Little Boy Blue, Come Blow Your Horn;
    The sheep’s in the meadow, the cow’s in the corn;
    Where is the boy who looks after the sheep?
    He’s in the meadow, and CPS has been called.

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