This article considers an 1850 publication of the children’s nursery rhyme “The Death and Burial of Cock Robin” and accompanying illustrations by Harrison Weir. The publication serves as educational material, guiding Victorian children through the process of losing a loved one while providing a window into preservation culture in mid-nineteenth-century Britain. Weir’s illustrations, reflecting popular taxidermy tableaux, nuance this pedagogical project by drawing on the growing naturalist preoccupation of the nineteenth century and attendant preservation culture. The preservation and commodification of animal bodies was also closely tied to education for both children and adults, as they provided windows into other experiences of an ever-widening world. Unlike other depictions of the rhyme, Weir’s unique illustrations focus on animals in nature rather than as material for human drama. This emphasis reflects the period’s shifting attitudes toward the natural world in light of industrialization. Children’s fluency with the natural world was beginning to experience fissures. Thus, the Cock Robin nursery rhyme served as an education in both burial roles and seeing, recognizing, and naming the natural world. Its reflection of commodification culture, however, makes it a poor educational tool today, even while our need for such material continues to grow.

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