Web Site Home
ESL Home
Little Orphan Annie
by James Whitcomb Riley (1849-1916)
Adapted from "Little Orphant [sic] Annie" in The Oxford Book of Children's Verse, eds. Iona and Peter Opie (London: Oxford Univ. Press, 1973), pages 300-301. The title of Harold Gray's popular comic strip came from this poem about Mary Alice "Allie" Smith who helped out with chores at the Riley household.
Once there was an orphan
who came to our house to stay.
She washed the cups and saucers.
She swept the crumbs away.
We sat around the kitchen table
and listened to her scary tales.
She told us about goblins,
and how the gobble-uns will get you
     IF YOU
         DON'T
             WATCH
                 OUT!


Once there was a little boy
who wouldn't say his prayers.
So when he went to bed at night
and he went up the stairs,
his mother heard him holler
and his father heard him bawl.
But when they checked his room,
he wasn't there at all!
And the gobble-uns will get you
     IF YOU
         DON'T
             WATCH
                 OUT!

Once there was a little girl
who made fun of everyone.
She mocked them and shocked them.
She said she didn't care!
Two great shadows standing by her side
took her through the ceiling
on a wild ride.
And the gobble-uns will get you
     IF YOU
         DON'T
             WATCH
                 OUT!


Once there was an orphan
who said when the fire is blue,
and the candle goes out,
and the wind goes "woo-oo!"
then you better listen to your parents,
and respect your teachers, too!
And cherish those who love you,
and help the poor all around,
or the gobble-uns will get you
     IF YOU
         DON'T
             WATCH
                 OUT!
Vocabulary
orphan \'OUR-fen\: child who has no living parents
scary \'SKER-i\: frightening
goblins \'GAB-linz\: ugly mischievous creatures from folklore
watch out: \wach aut\ be careful
holler \'HA-ler\: shout
bawl \bal\: cry

*pronunciation for 5-vowel languages

make fun of: ridicule
mock \mak\: ridicule
shock \shak\: cause extreme surprise
don't care: not bothered by
you better listen: you should listen
cherish \'CHE-rish\: show affection toward