Oh, everyone’s here, Mommy! Everyone! There’s Peter Pumpkin, who was unable to provide for his wife and shoved her into a gourd. It’s the magic forest of make-believe, except children don’t really like any of these stories, do they? They exist at a time when the idea of words and their fictional possibilities are just beginning to dawn on kids. The sounds are what matters, the rhymes, and then the dimly understood meanings contained in the patterns of phonemes.
What I’m trying to say is this: no kid goes to sleep thinking I wish nursery rhymes could come true! If only I could meet a crooked man and watch Humpty die and Jack break his head and Jill fall down afterwards and the wolf eat grandma and then the woodsman splits him open with an axe and grandma comes out of his bloody remains! If only!