Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Now, children, are you sitting comfortably?

A couple of times lately, I've had to work a few hours in the Children's Library - which is conveniently (for me!) separate in an adjacent building. 

It isn't really my 'oeuvre'. I don't have kids or young cousins. I'm not an auntie. I don't have many friends with kids (once they have them, they tend to mix with other parents) and most of my neighbours are elderly.

So it's like they're an alien species. I'm not sure how to communicate or, indeed, what to say. I'm quite chatty to adult borrowers but feel my chosen topics (government cutbacks, spreadsheet techniques, identity theft, the weather) may fall on stony ground with youngsters. So I opt for talking to everyone as if they were about 35, and if aliens come I'll probably do the same. Heaven knows, some of our young visitors even behave as if they were 35.  

Anyway, browsing through the (broadly) safe and cuddly world of children's fiction, I couldn't help noticing that some of the stories need a bit of updating.  After all, nursery rhymes are sometimes believed to be about social issues of the time, so I have set about the task... 

Jack be nimble, Jack be quick
Jack jumped over the cfl...

Mary Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With insecticide and fertiliser
and B&Q gazebo

Rock-a-bye baby in a tree top
Call Social Services - this has to stop!

Baa baa, black sheep - have any wool?
No sir, no sir - since there was the cull

Little Jack Horner, sat in a corner
Eating his five a day...

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall...
Humpty Dumpty! Had an accident that wasn't your fault?
Call 0800 ….

Three mice with visual impairments...

P.S.  Some excellent additions in the comments posted below including a fine reworking of my favourite Belloc cautionary tale



  1. Christopher Robin went down on Alice.

    I can do original, but not for free.

  2. 'believed' to be 'about social issues... ' ?

    Those Ladybird books are v. good.

    Sing a song of sixpence,
    A pocket full of hash

  3. Jack and Jill went up the hill
    Intent on getting slaughtered

    Your Ladybird books are brilliant. Good that something positive has arisen from your sojourn in the children's library. It was never my comfort zone.

  4. Oh I love 'Your First Asbo'!

    I don't cope well with children until they reach the stage of conversation. I feel stupid talking to babies or toddlers. And then teenagers can be so tricky too! I guess kids between about 4 and 10 are the ones I feel most comfortable talking with. Like you, I didn't have any myself, though in recent years have gained a couple of step-grandchildren.

  5. How about "University challenge! How to manage your future debt ..."

    I'm liking your thinking :-)

  6. First of all - sorry folks, but the Ladybird books are not my own work - saved the pics years ago and never made a note where from - which is probably illegal.

    Vicus - excellent! And would thet be sex-changing the guards at Buckingham Palace?

    Dave - apparently. I thought it was undisputed until I checked out that Wikipedia link - which says there isn't much evidence. (p.s. That's very cheap for a pocket full of hash isn't it? Of course I know nothing of such things.)

    Christine - Glad to see binge drinking getting a mention!

    Joanne - My only experience is with under one year olds, and one each 5&7 year olds - but only in Hebrew (long story).

    Tom - Oooh - topical too!

  7. Love it Claire, I'll bring the Kingsley jrs to see you at the library soon, they are well versed in excel spreadsheet & government cutback dialogue already so no need to worry ;o)

  8. Mary had a little lamb,
    A prominent expert in embryogenetics has been arrested.

  9. Since you weren't familiar with the AAMilne one above (you know you are getting old when the poets start looking younger).
    Hush, hush, whisper who dares!
    Little boy kneels at the foot of the stairs
    Blood on his fingers, fur on the mat
    Christopher Robin castrated the cat.

    T.S.Eliot? 'kin amateur.

  10. Hello Cupcake - and look at you with your shiny new blog! I bet the Kingsley Jnrs are also focal on energy conservation and the glories of Wales, non?

    Martin - Ha ha! Good one.

    Vicus - Lordy! Don't have nightmares now, kiddies!

  11. The Awful Story of Wee Nicky, who Broke his Promise and was Butchered Accordingly

    Wee Nicky told such Dreadful Lies
    It made one Gasp and Stretch one's Eyes;
    The Voters, who were Quite Uncouth,
    But Held an Odd Regard for Truth,
    Attempted to Believe Wee Nicky;
    Alas, the Lad was Very Tricky
    And, once in Office, Tore up Pledges
    As if they were the Neighbours' Hedges,
    And Caused such Damage to the State
    That Many wished to Emigrate.
    His Horrid Fate came in this Way:
    Upon a Bleak and Dreary Day
    Some Students who had Missed their Schooling
    Because of Nicky's Clever Fooling
    Waylaid him in a Darkened Street.
    Alas, they Knew Not how to Treat
    A Personage of Nicky's Fame
    (For which he had Himself to Blame,
    Through Leaving Not a Coat Unturned,
    Thus Limiting what they had Learned),
    And, Caring Not for Gold nor Groats,
    Nor Single Transferable Votes,
    Nor British Values, Social Size,
    Nor Adam Smith the Ever-Wise,
    They took Wee Nicky by his Lip,
    And Pulled it with a Mighty Grip,
    Till, with a Ghastly Squelch and Spray,
    They Pulled his Frontal Parts Away.
    Let Honest Children Heed his Case:
    He Broke his Word, and Lost some Face.

    with apologies to Hilaire Belloc

  12. Ah, you misunderstood the sarcasm in the first part of my comment. I was suggesting you'd missed some words out. Note the ''.

  13. Philip - My favourite Belloc cautionary tale is 'Henry King (Who Chewed Bits of String and was Cut Off in his Prime)'! And I must say that you have done it justice with this fine reworking... I especially liked 'Through Leaving Not a Coat Unturned'. *Applause! Applause!*... may I use it in a forthcoming Cautionary Tales post pleeeeease?

    Dave - Ahhh. Why didn't you say so? Fixed it now!

  14. In fact, it's a ripoff um re-imagining of "Matilda, Who Told Lies and was Burned to Death". Of course you can use it if you like - I'll take any profits, and you can have all the lawsuits from Orange Bookers and the Estate of Hilaire Belloc.

  15. Oh bugger! I knew that - of course it's my other favourite! Although I've gone off the idea of promoting it now I've read the small print. ;-)

    *Thinks: I could do the 'thought police' thing and delete my earlier, erroneous comment, and then it never happened - like Nick Clegg probably will!*

  16. I've just put up a slightly altered version at my own place - in light of today's revelations, I'm afraid it was impossible to resist.

  17. i loved this!! So cheered up now :)

  18. Jack and Jill went up the hill
    To fetch a pail of water.
    Jill came down with half-a-crown
    And not for fetching water.

  19. Jack and Jill went up the hill
    To fetch a pail of water.
    Jill came down with half-a-crown
    And not for fetching water.

  20. Baa-Baa, Green Sheep
    Who painted you, my friend
    Some fellow from the council,
    They're 'round the bloody bend.

    — Bob Monkhouse