Baby Rhyme Time, by Deborah Walker

This story was first published in Innsmouth FreePress 2009.

Baby Rhyme Time.

Youngsters Enjoy Initiation at Innsmouth Public Library.

Thirty babies and toddlers, ranging from the age of two weeks (well done, Mrs Beatrice Draggers) to two years, attended the first Baby Rhyme Time at the Innsmouth Public Library this week.

Miss Marberly Phillipson, Head of Juvenile Development Services, said, “I am delighted to see so many little ones here today. One simply cannot introduce a child early enough to the magic of the written word.”

The youngsters enjoyed some traditional rhythms and were introduced to a few songs that are unique to our own Innsmouth region.

“It is amazing what children of this age can understand.” continued Miss Phillipson.“Some of the youngsters appeared to have an almost instinctive grasp of our traditional songs.”

The youngsters enjoyed several stories read by Miss Phillipson including That’s Not My Dhole and the perennial picture-book favourite The Very, Very Sleepy Octopus.  As a special treat Miss Phillipson had adapted some of the Innsmouth’s most treasured books to suit the tastes of the children.

“We have a wonderful heritage here in Innsmouth,” continued Miss Phillipson. “It is our duty to pass it on to the little ones. I have adapted some of our special books to suit a child’s understanding. But it is important to retain the integrity of the original. I believe it is a mistake, a serious mistake, to allow the message of our texts to be weakened. Children, especially the children of Innsmouth understand more than many outsiders might imagine. Children love books, and while I’m not advocating we allow youngsters direct access to our esoteric sections, I believe that the messages we instil at an early age will a lasting effect on our future – on all our futures.”

Mrs Alison Transents, mother of Archibald (age 18 months) couldn’t agree more, “When Miss Phillipson brought out her special story book, I had to hold little Archie back. It’s as if he recognized some of the characters in the story. He particularly enjoyed the illustrations.”

Miss Phillipson is a strong advocate of early learning. “It is my aim to get every child into the public library. I was amazed when I saw some of the children, who could barely speak, grasping the harmonics of some of our more complex chants. With simple repetition and constant reinforcement in the home, there is no doubt that these children will be adept in our traditions by school age.”

Perhaps surprising, one of the most popular songs was spoken in a traditional language. Some parents may find some the following extract challenging!

“Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.’

Miss Phillipson, who is something of an adept herself in these matters, will be glad to assist parents in mastering the correct pronunciation of this rhyme (interested readers may like to attend Miss Phillipson’s Manuscript Sessions – An Easy and Fun Introduction to the Ancient held every on alternate Thursday evenings at the library).

“Of course, parents might prefer my English translation,” laughed Miss Phillipson. “It is not a literal translation, but I believe it captures the essence of the original.”

Miss Phillipson has kindly allowed us to reproduce her translation for use in the home environment.

Peek-a-boo, Ancient One
Great Old One of the sea.
In R’yleh
Deep and silent.
Awaken me. Awaken me. Awaken me.
Hiding still.
Peek-a-boo!
You see me.  You see me. You see me.

Mr Barnabas Wright, Director of Innsmouth’s Leisure Services, attended the first Baby Rhyme Time. He fully supports the library’s initiative, “I believe we are reviving some of Innsmouth’s most ancient traditions. These fragments of text have been passed down to us through the ages. It is gratifying to think of countless generations of mothers singing these same words to their children.  These chants have a timeless appeal. That is why they have survived – and will always live on.”

Mrs Vernonic Nahastra mother of Mirabelle (8 months) certainly agrees, “I would never have thought to bring Mirabelle to the library at such an early age. But you should have seen her little face light up when she heard the rhymes. It was almost as if she understood every word. I shall be definitely including Miss Phillipson’s chants in our bedtime routine.”

“We have some very exceptional history here at Innsmouth,” commented Miss Phillipson. “Knowledge can be instilled in even the youngest child. It is my duty and my privilege to pass on our special legacy to these innocents.”

And to judge by the cries of delight when Miss Phillipson led the special chanting, I think the youngsters of Innsmouth are very pleased about that!

~~

Deborah Walker grew up in the most English town in the country, but she soon high-tailed it down to London, where she now lives with her partner, Chris, and her two young children. Find Deborah in the British Museum trawling the past for future inspiration or on her blog: http://deborahwalkersbibliography.blogspot.com/ Her stories have appeared in Nature’s Futures, Cosmos and Daily Science Fiction and The Year’s Best SF 18.  

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Posted on January 20, 2014, in Issue 12: The Shadows Only Hide the Monsters: Poe & Lovecraft Tribute and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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