G-8893 Jennie Jenkins


G-8893 Jennie Jenkins by John M. Feierabend

Series: First Steps in Music


Jennie Jenkins is a well-known American folk song sumptuously illustrated by Ashely Maurer. This book is the latest in our series of children’s picture books based on timeless songs and stories, each with a free, downloadable MP3 of the song.

In the United States, Jennie Jenkins was sung as a way for a boy to ask a girl to dance. The boy would sing the first part and pick a color and the girl would have to make up an answer that rhymed. If the girl failed to quickly respond with an appropriate answer, she would be required to dance with the boy.

“Jennie Jenkins” (as “Jane” Jenkins) is first found in the United States in the 1823 collection, The Green Mountain Songster, compiled by a Revolutionary War soldier from Sandgate, Vermont.

In his Folk Song USA (1947), Alan Lomax wrote, “Jennie Jenkins is among the most sprightly of the old dialogue songs which were sung at social gatherings such as apple-peelings, quilting bees, and church socials. On these occasions much entertainment was provided as the young folks teased each other through the medium of answer-back verses, some of which, depending upon the song, had to be improvised on the spot.”

This song may be downloaded in audio form at no charge at giamusic.com/jennie. The fully notated version of this song with all the words is included at the end of this book, along with a detailed history of the song.

A beautiful take on a timeless story, this picture book will become a favorite of today’s children, another wonderful chapter in the continuing legacy of a delightful, classic songtale.

John M. Feierabend, PhD, has spent decades compiling songs and rhymes from the memories of the American people in the hopes that these treasures will be preserved for future generations. He is Professor and Chair of the Music Education Department at The Hartt School of the University of Hartford.

Ashley Maurer is a graduate of the University of Hartford with a BFA in illustration. Creating the artwork for Jennie Jenkins was her first opportunity to explore the world of illustrating children’s books. Bringing this story to life has been an amazing journey from start to finish, and has sparked the beginning of a career dedicated to illustrating books for children who will enjoy her characters and stories with their family, friends, and teachers for years to come.